It was widely hailed as a landmark ruling. It created powerful legal protections for the integrity of standard-setting processes. But not anymore.
On April 22, the D.C. Circuit Court reversed the FTC's famous 2006 decision, In re Rambus Inc. The FTC had held that antitrust law protects standard-setting organizations against companies, that unscrupulously conceal patent rights in proposed industry standards.
Because it was unclear whether JEDEC would have excluded Rambus' patented technologies or merely required RAND licensing, the court reversed the FTC's finding that Rambus violated antitrust law.
The D.C. Circuit's Rambus decision establishes a tough standard for antitrust liability. It's hard to prove exactly what an SSO would have done years earlier if it had not been deceived.
The FTC has asked the D.C. Circuit to reconsider its ruling. The legal war over patents and standard-setting is far from over.