European Union regulators have charged memory chip maker Rambus Inc. with antitrust abuse, alleging that the company demanded "unreasonable" royalties for its patents that were fraudulently set as industry standards. Rambus allegedly deceived a standards-setting committee by failing to disclose that its patented technology would be needed to comply with the standard, thereby effectively forcing every manufacturer that wanted to make synchronous dynamic access memory chips to negotiate a license with Rambus.
Both EU and U.S. antitrust officials allege that this allowed Rambus gain an illegal monopoly in the 1990s for DRAM chips used in personal computers, servers, printers, personal digital assistants and other electronics. Just weeks earlier, the US Federal Trade Commission issued an order barring Rambus from collecting royalties on U.S. patents and foreign ones relating to goods imported into or from the United States; the EU's executive arm said it had to act because the U.S. decision would not grant relief to companies in Europe. The EU could impose a fine of up to 10 percent of a company's global turnover for each year it broke the law.