March 11, 2009 / 12:30 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-US judge rules Hynix must pay Rambus $396 million

(Adds background, detail)

SAN FRANCISCO, March 10 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge issued a final ruling on Tuesday ordering Hynix Semiconductor Inc (000660.KS) to pay memory chip designer Rambus Inc (RMBS.O) $396 million in a long-running patent dispute.

The judgment of $349,035,842 in damages and an additional $47,845,402 in interest accompanies a compulsory license agreement that allows Hynix to continue to sell dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, in the United States.

“We are planning on filing an appeal once the final judgment is issued,” Park Hyun, a Hynix spokesman in Seoul said earlier before the ruling.

The order by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte followed an agreement reached by the two sides at his urging.

Not all issues were resolved. The judge said that Hynix was premature in its request to pay the judgment into escrow, instead of to Rambus. But he gave a hint of his views:

“The court also notes that Hynix’s fear — that Rambus will not return any royalties paid by Hynix even if Hynix prevails on appeal — appears baseless,” the judge said in his order.

The judge said Rambus has 30 days to file its costs with the court, and Hynix at least 21 days to object.

Rambus is involved in legal disputes around the world over its contention that Hynix and other chipmakers have violated its patents on DRAM that is used in virtually all personal computers.

Earlier, analysts said an appeal would be the right option for Hynix, which is battling its worst downturn in the memory chip market and had to raise cash from its shareholders earlier this year. [ID:nSEO15735]

“Hynix can buy another year or so by appealing, although a lot also depends on the amount of interest due,” said James Song, an analyst at Daewoo Securities.

“This could prompt Hynix to try to raise fresh funding if the DRAM market situation doesn’t improve in the second half of the year.”

Reporting by Clare Baldwin, writing by David Lawsky; Editing by Andre Grenon, Bernard Orr

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