Supreme Court denies Samsung appeal

The justices will not consider a push by the electronics company to require memory chip designer Rambus to pay its attorney fees for a dismissed patent infringement case.

The Supreme Court has refused to consider appeals from Samsung Electronics in a case against Rambus, a memory design and patent licensing company, closing a saga that began in 2005 over alleged patent infringement.

The court's decision to stay out of the case leaves in place an April appeals court ruling (PDF) that a district court had no jurisdiction to grant an order that--while technically in favor of Rambus--included negative opinions about the company.

Rambus first sued Samsung in 2005 for allegedly violating its patents of various dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, devices. Samsung immediately countersued in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, claiming that the patents were invalid and unenforceable.

In a similar case, a district court found Rambus guilty of spoliation of evidence. Rambus quickly settled that case and, in September 2005, moved to dimiss its claims against Samsung. However, Samsung's attorney fees were still in dispute, so Rambus offered to fully compensate for them.

Samsung refused the offer but continued with its court motion to obtain them. The district court in July 2006 denied Samsung its attorney fees--in that sense ruling in favor of Rambus--but included in its ruling a lengthy opinion addressing allegations that Rambus was guilty of tampering with evidence.

Unhappy with this turn of events, Rambus argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to even give the ruling, since its offer to pay Samsung the attorney fees rendered the case moot. In April of this year, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sided with Rambus, vacating the previous order and remanding the case back to the court with instructions to dismiss Samsung's complaint. The Supreme Court's decision not to hear Samsung's appeal leaves the lower court's decision in place.

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