An administrative law judge from the U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday found that NVIDIA Corp. infringed several patents of Samsung Electronics. The judge ruled that NVIDIA’s graphics processing units (GPUs) and system-on-chips (SoCs) infringed three fundamental patents that belong to Samsung. NVIDIA said that patents were outdated, but if the full agency finds that there was a violation, certain NVIDIA’s products could be banned in the U.S.

David P. Shaw, an administrative law judge from Washington D.C., found that NVIDIA infringed U.S. patents 6,147,385, 6,173,349 and 7,804,734. The patents cover an implementation of SRAM, a shared computer bus system with arbiter and a memory sub-system with a data strobe buffer. Some of the patents were granted back in the nineties and such inventions may be considered as fundamental technologies or may not be used at all by modern chips. One of the patents will expire next year, hence, it will not have any effect on NVIDIA’s business even though it was infringed.

NVIDIA’s lawyers in turn have said that Samsung had “chosen three patents that have been sitting on the shelf for years collecting nothing but dust.” NVIDIA hopes that when several judges review the case in the coming months, it will be found not guilty of patent infringement.

“We are disappointed,” Hector Marinez, a spokesman for NVIDIA, said a statement. “We look forward to seeking review by the full ITC which will decide this case several months from now.”

Samsung accused NVIDIA of infringing its patents in mid-November, 2014, two months after the Santa Clara, California-based developer of chips sued the Suwon, South Korea-based conglomerate. NVIDIA asserted that graphics processing units integrated into Samsung’s Exynos system-on-chips as well as into Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs infringe its fundamental graphics patents. NVIDIA asked ITC to ban sales of Samsung’s smartphones and tablets that use Exynos and Snapdragon chips, which allegedly infringed its patents, in the U.S. Samsung also asked the commission to stop sales of certain NVIDIA-based products in the U.S.

Last week a group of six ITC judges issued their final ruling concerning NVIDIA’s allegations against Samsung and Qualcomm. They found that Samsung and Qualcomm did not infringe two out of three patents of NVIDIA, whereas one patent was considered invalid. The ruling was very important not only for Samsung and Qualcomm, but for numerous other companies whom license graphics processing technologies from companies like ARM Holdings and Imagination Technologies, or buy SoCs from Qualcomm.

NVIDIA is the world’s largest supplier of discrete graphics processing units for personal computers. The company’s Tegra system-on-chips for mobile devices did not become very popular among makers of smartphones and tablets, which is why the company changed its SoC strategy in 2014 – 2015 to include going after vehicles, drones and other automotive applications.

NVIDIA Corp. has been trying to monetize its intellectual property by licensing its technologies and patents to third-parties starting from mid-2013. So far, NVIDIA has not managed to license its Kepler or Maxwell graphics cores to any other chip developer. Moreover, Samsung and Qualcomm will also not pay NVIDIA because they did not violate any of its patents, according to the ITC rulings.

The results of the legal fight between Samsung and NVIDIA are not final. Although the U.S. ITC found no violations by Samsung and infringements by NVIDIA, usually patent-related legal battles last for many years.

Image of gavel by Douglas Palmer, Flickr.

Source: Bloomberg

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  • Michael Bay - Saturday, December 26, 2015 - link

    Are you high or just a leftist nutjob? After I paid for a GPU, tose monies are no longer mine and nV is free to do whatever with them, it doesn`t concern me.
  • versesuvius - Sunday, December 27, 2015 - link

    Mechael Bay,

    Good point. But you forget that a true capitalist (i.e. non-leftist-nutjob) absolutely believes that all the money in the world just belongs to him and other people are only keeping it for him.
  • vred - Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - link

    Who's Fred Block?
  • lawblogbob - Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - link
  • kron123456789 - Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - link

    That's just great))) Shouldn't have started this lawsuit against Samsung in the first place
  • psychobriggsy - Thursday, December 24, 2015 - link

    "sitting on the shelf for years collecting nothing but dust"

    And they would have remained that way if NVIDIA hadn't decided that patent trolling was a good business model. Lots of patents are defensive patents, held in reserve in case of behaviour like this. No sympathy for NVIDIA.
  • jasonelmore - Thursday, December 24, 2015 - link

    we live in a great country when our own courts side with Foreign entity over made in america companies. This goes to show everyone around the world we don't play favorites and have a free, and fair judicial process.

    Yes it's not perfect, but in south korea, samsung would have won no matter what circumstances.
  • shm224 - Thursday, December 24, 2015 - link

    @jasonelmore : Sure, all domestic litigants should get +1 point for just having incorporated in the US if they are suing a foreign defendant. LOL!!

    No worries though, nVidia is definitely going to win the upcoming jury trial in their home court -- there are plenty of other patriots like you and Velvin Hogan who share the same xenophobic sentiment against foreigners. It would have been better if nVidia had taken the case to the Eastern District of Texas.

    Samsung would have won in South Korea no matter what? But that didn't happen in Samsung's lawsuit against Apple. In fact, Apple's hometown court is the only court in the world that came up with such ludicrous, lopsided ruling for their home team (thx to our patriots like Velvin Hogan).
  • Michael Bay - Saturday, December 26, 2015 - link

    Xenophobia is a sign of mental health. If you`re not protecting your own business, you`ll be paying to the foreign one.
  • shm224 - Sunday, December 27, 2015 - link

    @michael bay : sure, who said it wasn't? I just said there is plenty of xenophobia in American court. There are at least one federal appellate judge who agrees with this too -- see Kim Moore who wrote "Xenophobia in American court."

    In fact, I just cited a recent case (Apple vs Samsung) where the xenophobic jury handed a domestic litigant a blantantly lopsided legal victory. When the same foreign litigant won their case in ITC, the domestic litigant had the president overturn that ruling on the public interest ground. So what do you want? a proof that the US court is somehow fair or just?

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