The War of Patents: Netlist vs Micron

Netlist, a California based memory technology company, has emerged victorious in a legal battle against Micron. The court has ordered Micron to pay a staggering $445 million in damages for infringing on Netlist’s patent rights. This ruling comes as a blow to Micron, as the judge has the authority to triple the damages, potentially leaving Micron with a bill exceeding $1 billion.

The patents at the center of the dispute are US Patent numbers 7,619,912 and 11,093,417. The first patent describes a memory module decoder, while the second pertains to the data buffering of memory modules. Both patents cover methods for enhancing the performance and capacity of DRAM memory modules in computer systems. The jurors awarded $425 million for the infringement of the first patent, and $20 million for the infringement of the second.

This is not the first time Netlist has prevailed in a patent infringement case. In 2023, the company was awarded $303 million in damages after a jury found Samsung guilty of infringing on its patents. However, the legal battle with Samsung is still ongoing. In a recent development, the US Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) declared the patents in question invalid. Micron, on the other hand, argued during the trial that the ‘912 patent held by Netlist was invalidated by the PTAB, and the company intends to challenge the ruling.

While $445 million may seem like a hefty sum, Micron is not exactly in dire straits. The company is experiencing growth, particularly in the realm of enterprise memory products that cater to the artificial intelligence sector. In its latest financial report for Q2, Micron posted a revenue of $5.82 billion, a significant increase from the previous quarter and a substantial jump from the same period last year. This indicates that Micron has the financial resources to hire top-notch patent attorneys and potentially appeal the ruling.

The legal battle between Netlist and Micron underscores the importance of protecting intellectual property rights in the technology sector. The outcome of this case will have significant implications for both companies and could set a precedent for future patent disputes in the industry. Only time will tell how this legal saga unfolds and the impact it will have on the competitive landscape of the memory technology market.


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