Netlist bags $40m from SK hynix in patent cross-licensing deal

US SSD and memory module supplier Netlist has prevailed in a patent infringement lawsuit against SK hynix, winning a $40m settlement, a cross-licensing deal and a supply arrangement.

The dispute concerned Netlist LRDIMM and RDIMM patents, with Netlist alleging that SK hynix used elements of those patents its own memory module products.

Netlist CEO C.K. Hong said in a statement: “We are delighted with the recognition of the value of Netlist’s intellectual property and very much look forward to partnering with SK hynix, a global leader in memory and storage technology.”

Netlist will receive a payment of $40m in connection with the entry into the License Agreement. The Supply Agreement entitles Netlist to purchase up to $600m of SK hynix memory products during its term. The companies also plan to collaborate on commercialising Netlist’s HD CXL technology. This HD CXL technology refers to HybridDIMM modules, which mix NAND and DRAM, and are accessed over Computer Express Link as DRAM. Netlist supplies DIMM products to OEMs such as Dell, IBM, HP, and Apple, and has been in business for over 20 years.

Netlist DIMMs.

History

This agreement between Netlist and SK hynix means the entire legal dispute has been concluded. It’s been a long haul.

The dispute began in 2016 when Netlist filed a LRDIMM and RDIMM patent infringement suit against SK hynix with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). It filed again in 2017. The initial ITC judgements in each case went against Netlist but it persisted. Netlist also went to the Patent Trial and Appeals Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In October 2019 the ITC issued a Notice of Initial Determination finding that certain Netlist memory module patents were being infringed by SK hynix. and set a target date of April 7, 2020 for completion of the Investigation and issuance of a Final Initial Determination.

In March 2020, Netlist filed new legal proceedings for patent infringement against SK hynix, again citing RDIMM and LRDIMM memory products, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. 

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