Memory chip maker Rambus Inc. deceived a standards-setting committee and will be liable for financial damages, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission ruled Wednesday.
The ruling reverses a decision from 2004, when an FTC administrative law judge ruled that Rambus was not liable in the matter. Rambus senior legal adviser John Danforth said the Los Altos, Calif.-based company plans to appeal.
The case has hinged on whether Rambus illegally obtained a monopoly in the 1990s when securing patents for two popular types of memory used in personal computers. Rambus was accused of failing to disclose to an engineering council that its patents had been incorporated into an industry standard regarding memory technology.
Rambus also is one of several dozen companies embroiled in a federal investigation of stock options. An audit committee concluded that Rambus executives awarded some options on dates that differed from the moments those benefits were recorded in accounting books. The practice, known as backdating, attempts to maximize an option’s value by retroactively pinning its exercise price to a share’s low point.