American server memory technology industry Netlist, which received investments from Samsung, will receive loyalty for its patents from major D-RAM industries.
Excluding Samsung Electronics that invested into Netlist first, all of D-RAM industries in South Korea and the U.S. are targets of license.
According to industries on the 1st, Netlist recently won a case against a suit proposed by American D-RAM module controller industry Inphi regarding invalidity of patent on LRDIMM (Load Reduced Dual In-line Memory Module).
Conflict between two companies started 5 years ago when Inphi proposed that Netlist’spatent (No. 7532537) on LRDIMM that was applied in 2010 was invalid and requested reevaluation to American Intellectual Property Office. However American Intellectual Property Office came to a conclusion that all of 60 patents that were applied by Netlist are valid. Although Inphi requested an appeal to patent judges, decision did not change. Even its request for rehearing was rejected. Inphi requested an appeal to federal appellate court by saying that decision by patent judges is unfair in October of 2014. However that was rejected at a final decision this month.
LRDIMM, which was a major focal point of this suit, is a memory module technology for servers. It controls data signals by adding register and buffer inside of a module and operates at a higher speed compared to current RDIMM (Registered Dual In-line Memory Module). It is possible to make up mass memory since its speed does not slow down even when number of installed modules is increased.
Netlist’s patents regulate 60 major clauses that operate DDR3 and DDR4 LRDIMM and were approved of their validities during lawsuit process.
“If a business wants to produce LRDIMM memory and sell to the U.S., it must sign on a contract with Netlist regarding use of Netlist’s patents.” said Vice-President Kim Ji Bum who is in charge of Netlist’s Asia Business Marketing.
As demands for fasts-speed and large-capacity memories are increasing in server industries, size of markets regarding LRDIMM is increasing. According to market research company called DE Dios & Associates, it estimates that LRDIMM memory market will grow from $3 billion business this year to $6 billion business in 2018.
Inphi is currently supplying LRDIMM Controllers, and all of D-RAM industries including Samsung Electronics are its customers. This is a reason why Inphi proposed that Netlist’s patents are invalid. Because IDT is another business that is currently selling LRDIMM Controllers, industries are seeing that IDT also invaded Netlist’s patents.
Memory industries obtain controllers from these businesses, make up LRDIMM D-RAM Modules, and supply them to server industries. In other words, businesses need to sign on contracts with Netlist regarding use of Netlist’s technologies if they want to sell corresponding products. It is heard that Netlist is making negotiation with major D-RAM industries regarding license to use its technologies after winning its lawsuit.
“Because Netlist is a business that sells its own memory module product lines, its characteristic is unlike Rambus that made profits in the past with its patents.” said a person in this industry. “This is a same context as of how Samsung invested in Netlist and co-developing next-generation memories with Netlist.”
Earlier on, Samsung Electronics’ Devise Solution (DS) Section’s Memory Business Department and Samsung Venture Investments announced that they invested $23 million (approximately 27 billion KRW) into Netlist. Due to Samsung’s investment, both companies are sharing patents for 5 years hereafter and decided to co-develop NVDIMM (Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module).
Netlist also has important patents in NVDIMM field. Although Sandisk along with its affiliates proposed early this year that Netlist’s patents regarding NVDIMM are invalid, Intellectual Property Office rejected reevaluation.
Intel recently clarified its stance of re-entering memory markets with NVDIMM technologies. Industries believe that a reason why Samsung Electronics invested into Netlist is because it wants to secure patents on related technologies.
Netlist was established in 2000 by CEO Hong Choon Ki who worked as an executive for LG’s Semiconductor Department.
Staff Reporter Han, Jooyeop | [email protected]