U.S. judge says will likely rule for Micron

SAN JOSE, California Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:06pm EST

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SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) - A Federal District Court judge told a hearing on Friday that he will likely rule for chip maker Micron and against chip designer Rambus in a contentious patent case.

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte said he will rule on Monday or Tuesday.

He said his views are unlikely to extend to other companies sued by Rambus in the patent dispute, chipmakers Hynix Semiconductor, Samsung Electronics Co and Nanya Technology Corp.

Whyte said from the bench that a ruling against Rambus earlier this month by a District Court judge in Delaware "doesn't permit the court to exercise discretion."

Even if it did, he said it would be an abuse of discretion not to follow the ruling on January 9 by Judge Sue Robinson in Delaware.

Robinson ruled in Wilmington, Del., that Rambus had destroyed documents, impugning "the very integrity of the litigation process."

As a result, she threw out Rambus's patent claims against Micron and barred it from collecting money.

But the other three companies which are involved in the case in San Jose were not part of the case in Delaware.

Whyte himself took an opposite view from Judge Robinson in a 2006 ruling involving Hynix and Samsung. On Friday, he said he would not now follow the Delaware ruling citing "the inconsistency in the different courts' views of the evidence."

He said Nanya has not yet had a ruling but "I'm inclined to deny that motion."

Rambus stock closed at $9.06, up 1.57 percent, before the decision came out. Micron closed at $3.72, up 4.2 percent.

When Rambus reported quarterly earnings on Thursday, a company official said in answer to an analyst's question that Rambus had spend about $300 million on legal costs since 2000.

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin, writing by David Lawsky; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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