Rambus files anti-trust suit against memory makers

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By way of retaliating for all the geopolitics, I feel the compulsion to
start another Rambus thread:

http://www.forbes.com/newswire/2004/05/05/rtr1360190.html

<quote>

Computer memory designer Rambus Inc. (nasdaq: RMBS - news - people) on
Wednesday filed an anti-trust lawsuit in California court against some
of the world's top computer memory makers, alleging they "engaged in a
concerted and unlawful effort" to control the computer memory market.

</quote>

People who live in glass houses...

RM
 
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On Thu, 06 May 2004 00:47:20 GMT, Robert Myers <rmyers@rustuck.com> wrote:

>By way of retaliating for all the geopolitics, I feel the compulsion to
>start another Rambus thread:

Oh Ge-e-e-e-ez Robert, now we'll have Sim Tullivan in here again!:) Plus
RMBS has been doing its yo-yo acts on the "market".... AGAIN!

>http://www.forbes.com/newswire/2004/05/05/rtr1360190.html
>
><quote>
>
>Computer memory designer Rambus Inc. (nasdaq: RMBS - news - people) on
>Wednesday filed an anti-trust lawsuit in California court against some
>of the world's top computer memory makers, alleging they "engaged in a
>concerted and unlawful effort" to control the computer memory market.

First, calling Rambus a "computer memory designer" is umm, charitable to
say the least but anyway... a coupla things I don't get here and I'd
appreciate an alternative view:

1) During the period Rambus is talking about, memory prices had been in the
toilet for months and everybody was losing money hand over fist on PC
DIMMs. Why would it be illegal to cut back on production if the market was
so saturated with product that it was selling at below cost?

2) Rambus came along and said to all the memory mfrs: "Hey guys we've got a
great new idea for a standard for memory interfacing". The memory mfrs
said: "We've talked it out among us and we don't like your "great new idea"
- ah heck off!... or go make it yourself: pay the patent license fees for
all the other tech involved, do the complete design, fund a fab or
outsource to a foundry and do the marketing yourselves." Is there
something illegal here?

Seems like Rambus wanted to bilk the memory mfrs as a group but they didn't
want them deciding, as a group, that they didn't want to be bilked. Should
take all of 5mins to settle this but...

Rgds, George Macdonald

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On Fri, 07 May 2004 15:54:15 GMT, Robert Myers <rmyers@rustuck.com> wrote:

>George Macdonald wrote:
>> On Thu, 06 May 2004 00:47:20 GMT, Robert Myers <rmyers@rustuck.com> wrote:
>>
>>
>>>By way of retaliating for all the geopolitics, I feel the compulsion to
>>>start another Rambus thread:
>>
>>
>> Oh Ge-e-e-e-ez Robert, now we'll have Sim Tullivan in here again!:)
>
>I guess we'll find out if he follows the group or just trolls. ;-).

That ship set sail long ago...
 
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On Fri, 07 May 2004 15:54:15 GMT, Robert Myers <rmyers@rustuck.com> wrote:

>George Macdonald wrote:
>> On Thu, 06 May 2004 00:47:20 GMT, Robert Myers <rmyers@rustuck.com> wrote:
>>
>>
>>>By way of retaliating for all the geopolitics, I feel the compulsion to
>>>start another Rambus thread:
>>
>>
>> Oh Ge-e-e-e-ez Robert, now we'll have Sim Tullivan in here again!:)
>
>I guess we'll find out if he follows the group or just trolls. ;-).

That ship set sail long ago...
 

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Robert Myers <rmyers@rustuck.com> wrote :

btw, DDR is down a good 20-30% this week (Poland), I'm kinda shocked :)



Pozdrawiam.
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You may never know -- UNTIL IT'S TOO LATE.
 
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George Macdonald wrote:

> On Fri, 07 May 2004 15:54:15 GMT, Robert Myers <rmyers@rustuck.com> wrote:
>

<snip>

>
> Well some guy who worked for Micron in a field office got pilloried because
> he'd had some docs showing competitors' pricing which he tried to "alter".
> Now if he got caught for altering, that's one thing but I don't see what's
> wrong with knowing competitors' pricing - that's how business operates: by
> figuring if you can undercut and still make a profit, or offer a better
> product for equivalent price.

Businesses are secretive about pricing for good reason: you have more
control in the never-ending struggle to maintain both margin and volume
that way. If a buyer comes along and will pay list price, that's good
for margin. If a buyer comes along and there is no way you're going to
make more than a sliver of margin on the deal, you take the business
anyway--unless your other customers might find out.

You might take the deal even if you are nominally losing money on it, as
long as the money you get is greater than the variable cost attributable
to doing that business. That's just talking about an industry that's
relatively healthy, where people aren't selling at an absolute loss just
to maintain market share. It's a mean world out there.

As silly as it sounds, surreptitiously sharing information with
competitors--but not customers--about the price at which you are
_really_ selling goods is anti-competitive and should be illegal.

> It seemed to me that the punishment was
> disproportionate anyway - ISTR substantial prison time and of course loss
> of employment.
>

I've seen some big-time shenanigans. It never seems to fail that the
one that gets punished most severely is some marginal player. The
systematic reason that I can identify for that irony is that the
marginal players never have anything of value to trade in making a plea
bargain, so our prisons fill up with nobodies. When they _do_ catch a
somebody with nothing to trade, like Martha Stewart, they do seem to try
to make a day of it.

> The way I see it, the memory mfrs were close to bankruptcy back about that
> time - one of them, Hyundai, did fail and had to get (quasi-legal) govt.
> support and reform as a new company. If your company is making a net loss
> on every item made, it makes sense to sell less items - responsibility to
> share holders demands it - and then hope...

I think you believe that memory manufacturers were selling at an
absolute loss, but manufacturers have even less incentive to be candid
about their costs than they do to be candid about their prices, so I
would take any self-descriptions of the situation with some skepticism.

> What actually passed between
> responsible members of the memory mfrs companies is hard to fathom but
> there's a difference between profiteering and struggling for survival.

Bill Gates is the wealthiest man in the world and some weenie from
Micron molders in jail. What do you want me to say?

> It's certainly hard to make a case that memory chips and modules has ever
> been overpriced in the past 8years or so.
>

If I told you the extent to which I wouldn't believe anything someone
like a memory manufacturer told me, you'd probably wind up believing
that I'd spent part of my life in the Mafia. You really do seem to
expect that there should be an element of fairness in business.

I don't think everyone is a crook, that all businesses or businessmen
are dishonest, or that there aren't significant numbers of people to
whom honesty and fairness aren't important. I, um, wouldn't take it for
granted that a big player in a commodity manufacturing industry would
always fall into that last category.

<snip>

>
> In any industry, if you, as a nobody in that
> industry, have a new widget you want to sell, you try to form bona fide
> alliances with the big guys, play nice according to their rules... or go it
> alone. Since they couldn't get funding to go it alone - hard one that -
> they had to play nice,

Apparently, no one told the Rambus principals. ;-). Bill Gates and
Steve Ballmer play nice?

> instead of which they acted like some courtesan
> selling favors... playing the mfrs against each other.

Stop it, George. You will give courtesans a bad name!

<snip>

>>
>>I think I've probably made it clear that I would have liked to have seen
>>RDRAM go or stay on the technical merits alone.
>
>
> In the end it mostly did... fail on its lack of merit.

Dead issue to me, really. What's done is done.

<snip>

>
> It's going to be difficult to separate industry inter-company gossip from
> official corporate policy here - e-mail tends to be a more chatty medium
> than letterhead so I'm not sure how that impacts the import of what was
> actually communicated.

It's odd that in order to have free markets, behavior that might seem
relatively innocent has to be scrutinized so harshly, but that's the way
it is. There is no such thing as innocent gossip in a case like this.

> On the strength of what they really had, the
> principals at Rambus were handsomely rewarded... according to insider
> trading records I've seen. I don't see that they have any complaint at
> all.
>
> This latest action could make an enemy of the one real industry ally Rambus
> ever had.

Intel is a hard read.

> I don't see how Intel can avoid getting dragged in here to give
> evidence on how they hoped to make out with the warrants scheme... and
> hijack the PC standard form factor. If Intel had not decided to own the
> PC, Rambus would have been a minor player in the console memory business
> who would have most likely been absorbed into Samsung or some other major
> player. Oh geez I hope they're not working the shredder overtime at Intel
> about now.:)
>

You will never cease to amaze me. You are now concerned for the
well-being of people who work for Intel? What an idealist. ;-).

RM
 

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Robert Myers wrote:

> The
> systematic reason that I can identify for that irony is that the
> marginal players never have anything of value to trade in making a plea
> bargain, so our prisons fill up with nobodies. When they _do_ catch a
> somebody with nothing to trade, like Martha Stewart, they do seem to try
> to make a day of it.

Yep Ken and the boys at Enron probably will never see the inside of a
courtroom yet Martha will go to jail because she's well known and like you
said don't have "enough to trade".



>
> I don't think everyone is a crook, that all businesses or businessmen
> are dishonest, or that there aren't significant numbers of people to
> whom honesty and fairness aren't important. I, um, wouldn't take it for
> granted that a big player in a commodity manufacturing industry would
> always fall into that last category.

Exactly, when I see someone with TOO much money, I know they can't be
-honest- and end up with that big a piece of the pie.



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KR Williams wrote:


>
>> > I don't think everyone is a crook, that all businesses or businessmen
>> > are dishonest, or that there aren't significant numbers of people to
>> > whom honesty and fairness aren't important. I, um, wouldn't take it
>> > for granted that a big player in a commodity manufacturing industry
>> > would always fall into that last category.
>>
>> Exactly, when I see someone with TOO much money, I know they can't be
>> -honest- and end up with that big a piece of the pie.
>
> Oh, good grief. "Money == bad." What a simpleton bunch here.
>

Didn't say "bad" but I have to wonder how someone makes enough for a
$3,000,000 boat etc and made it "honestly". Sure some do but I doubt most
do.

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KR Williams wrote:
> In article <2g5ncmF4mlr4U1@uni-berlin.de>, fotocord@yahoo.com
> says...
>
>>Robert Myers wrote:
>>
>
>>>I don't think everyone is a crook, that all businesses or businessmen
>>>are dishonest, or that there aren't significant numbers of people to
>>>whom honesty and fairness aren't important. I, um, wouldn't take it for
>>>granted that a big player in a commodity manufacturing industry would
>>>always fall into that last category.
>>
>>Exactly, when I see someone with TOO much money, I know they can't be
>>-honest- and end up with that big a piece of the pie.
>
>
> Oh, good grief. "Money == bad." What a simpleton bunch here.
>

Use labels with care. You never know where they might stick.

RM
 
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On Sat, 08 May 2004 18:20:45 GMT, Robert Myers <rmyers@rustuck.com> wrote:

>As silly as it sounds, surreptitiously sharing information with
>competitors--but not customers--about the price at which you are
>_really_ selling goods is anti-competitive and should be illegal.

No doubt but proving "surreptitious" and overt "sharing" could be difficult
here from what I see. IME, most companies know the exact list price and
pricing dynamics of competitors anyway - why bother with cloak & dagger?...
and then there's the "deepthroats" among the customers.

>> The way I see it, the memory mfrs were close to bankruptcy back about that
>> time - one of them, Hyundai, did fail and had to get (quasi-legal) govt.
>> support and reform as a new company. If your company is making a net loss
>> on every item made, it makes sense to sell less items - responsibility to
>> share holders demands it - and then hope...
>
>I think you believe that memory manufacturers were selling at an
>absolute loss, but manufacturers have even less incentive to be candid
>about their costs than they do to be candid about their prices, so I
>would take any self-descriptions of the situation with some skepticism.

Numbers were public for spot market trading in chips - they could not have
been making a profit. It showed in their profit & loss statements.

>> What actually passed between
>> responsible members of the memory mfrs companies is hard to fathom but
>> there's a difference between profiteering and struggling for survival.
>
>Bill Gates is the wealthiest man in the world and some weenie from
>Micron molders in jail. What do you want me to say?

I fail to see the relevance between Gates and Micron. Certainly little
guys should not be persecuted while big fish escape - justice is worth
pursuing but is not always realized... but the rule book should not be
thrown away or perverted with prejudice.

>> It's certainly hard to make a case that memory chips and modules has ever
>> been overpriced in the past 8years or so.
>>
>
>If I told you the extent to which I wouldn't believe anything someone
>like a memory manufacturer told me, you'd probably wind up believing
>that I'd spent part of my life in the Mafia. You really do seem to
>expect that there should be an element of fairness in business.

Fairness?... well kinda but any suggestion that Micron et.al. were
violating laws for profit are kinda umm, empty. As for what you "believe",
there's no need to listen to the mfr's version of the prices - it's all
public info.

>I don't think everyone is a crook, that all businesses or businessmen
>are dishonest, or that there aren't significant numbers of people to
>whom honesty and fairness aren't important. I, um, wouldn't take it for
>granted that a big player in a commodity manufacturing industry would
>always fall into that last category.

The memory mfrs are publicly owned companies and have a responsibility to
act accordingly in making deals and in their corporate behavior. It's a
fine line to walk when losing money.

>> In any industry, if you, as a nobody in that
>> industry, have a new widget you want to sell, you try to form bona fide
>> alliances with the big guys, play nice according to their rules... or go it
>> alone. Since they couldn't get funding to go it alone - hard one that -
>> they had to play nice,
>
>Apparently, no one told the Rambus principals. ;-). Bill Gates and
>Steve Ballmer play nice?

Billy and the Embalmer haven't been an interloper for a long long while and
it took a while for them to gain success... often due to the ineptitude of
their umm, collaborators and the competition. Rambus' ethics and goals are
a matter of record by even the judge who upheld their appeal against
Infineon.

>> It's going to be difficult to separate industry inter-company gossip from
>> official corporate policy here - e-mail tends to be a more chatty medium
>> than letterhead so I'm not sure how that impacts the import of what was
>> actually communicated.
>
>It's odd that in order to have free markets, behavior that might seem
>relatively innocent has to be scrutinized so harshly, but that's the way
>it is. There is no such thing as innocent gossip in a case like this.

When the uhh "scrutinizer" is a bandit corp. run by and for shysters, whose
principal activity is confrontational litigation, it makes a difference
though.:)

>> I don't see how Intel can avoid getting dragged in here to give
>> evidence on how they hoped to make out with the warrants scheme... and
>> hijack the PC standard form factor. If Intel had not decided to own the
>> PC, Rambus would have been a minor player in the console memory business
>> who would have most likely been absorbed into Samsung or some other major
>> player. Oh geez I hope they're not working the shredder overtime at Intel
>> about now.:)
>>
>
>You will never cease to amaze me. You are now concerned for the
>well-being of people who work for Intel? What an idealist. ;-).

No, no that was more cynical than empathy for Intel but it would be sad for
the industry in general to have them besmirched publicly. Intel obviously
has an impressive technical pool... if only it can be applied usefully.
Besides, we might need them to compete with AMD.:)

Rgds, George Macdonald

"Just because they're paranoid doesn't mean you're not psychotic" - Who, me??
 
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In article <2g60hrF4j6k7U1@uni-berlin.de>, fotocord@yahoo.com
says...
> KR Williams wrote:
>
>
> >
> >> > I don't think everyone is a crook, that all businesses or businessmen
> >> > are dishonest, or that there aren't significant numbers of people to
> >> > whom honesty and fairness aren't important. I, um, wouldn't take it
> >> > for granted that a big player in a commodity manufacturing industry
> >> > would always fall into that last category.
> >>
> >> Exactly, when I see someone with TOO much money, I know they can't be
> >> -honest- and end up with that big a piece of the pie.
> >
> > Oh, good grief. "Money == bad." What a simpleton bunch here.
> >
>
> Didn't say "bad" but I have to wonder how someone makes enough for a
> $3,000,000 boat etc and made it "honestly". Sure some do but I doubt most
> do.

Why do *you* care what anyone spends *their* money on. Who are
*YOU* to decide what's fair compensation. Good grief! I suppose
you're going to vote for Kerry, because he's somehow for the
little guy? Good grief, spare me your simple logic.

Sure, there are some crooks and there always will be. Catch the
bastards and filet them. To assume all "rich people" are crooks
is simply asinine!

--
Keith
 
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In article <xEsnc.12912$iF6.1302290@attbi_s02>, rmyers1400
@comcast.net says...
> KR Williams wrote:
> > In article <2g5ncmF4mlr4U1@uni-berlin.de>, fotocord@yahoo.com
> > says...
> >
> >>Robert Myers wrote:
> >>
> >
> >>>I don't think everyone is a crook, that all businesses or businessmen
> >>>are dishonest, or that there aren't significant numbers of people to
> >>>whom honesty and fairness aren't important. I, um, wouldn't take it for
> >>>granted that a big player in a commodity manufacturing industry would
> >>>always fall into that last category.
> >>
> >>Exactly, when I see someone with TOO much money, I know they can't be
> >>-honest- and end up with that big a piece of the pie.
> >
> >
> > Oh, good grief. "Money == bad." What a simpleton bunch here.
> >
>
> Use labels with care. You never know where they might stick.

We know where yours is stuck. ;-)

--
Keith