Rambus acquires Cryptography Research for $342.5m

Intellectual property portfolio holding house Rambus has announced that it is to buy security specialist Cryptography Research in a deal valued at $342.5 million - giving it a boost into the world of hardware-based security technology licensing.

Rambus made a name for itself by generating a vast fortune litigating against those it sees as infringing on any of its wide variety of technology-related patents - most recently declaring war on companies including Nvidia, Freescale, and Broadcom over the infringement of SATA, DisplayPort, and DDR-related IP.

At the time, company president Harold Hughes claimed that "Rambus has invested hundreds of millions of dollars developing a portfolio of technologies that are foundational for many digital electronics. In fairness to our shareholders and to our paying licensees, we take these steps to protect our patented innovations and pursue fair compensation for their use."

That portfolio is set to grow following the deal, which sees the company take over all the intellectual property of Cryptography Research - including content protection, network security, and anti-counterfeiting technologies.

Cryptography Research already makes a good income from flogging its technologies to third parties, with names such as Samsung, Toshiba, Microsoft, and Infineon paying to license the security technologies that the company has developed. These companies will now be dealing with Rambus, it has been confirmed.

The deal sees Rambus shelling out $342.5 million in cash and shares, and as yet it's not known whether Cryptography Research's Paul Kocher will be staying on as part of the deal.

"With many billions of connected devices conducting electronic transactions, storing important personal data, and delivering copyrighted content, the needs for security are paramount," Hughes claimed in a statement. Given recent moves across the industry, he would appear to have a point.

Back in August last year Intel made the surprising announcement that it was to acquire security specialist McAfee in a deal valued at $7.7 billion. At the time, many in the industry struggled to understand what a semiconductor company would do with a company best known for its anti-virus products.

Since then, however, there has been increasing interest in integrating security technologies directly onto the hardware - ranging from SATA controllers capable of scanning data for malware as it is written to a drive, to anti-piracy technologies baked directly into the silicon of the central processors themselves.

By acquiring Cryptography Research, Rambus gains a useful set of patents for such future developments and, as we have seen in the past, it's not a company which is afraid to flex its legal muscles in order to maximise the value of its portfolio.