Roughly a year and a half ago, NVIDIA opened up a patent infringement case against Samsung and Qualcomm, claiming that the various GPUs used by the two firms violated various NVIDIA patents. In response, Samsung opened up their own counter-suit, claiming that NVIIDA and its partners were violating Samsung patents. Since then, things have not progressed well for NVIDIA, with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling that Samsung’s GPUs don’t infringe on NVIDIA’s patents, while also ruling that NVIDIA’s GPUs did infringe on Samsung’s patents.

Now with the final ruling on Samsung’s counter-suit originally scheduled for today, NVIDIA has announced that they have buried the hatchet with Samsung, ending all litigation between the companies. In their announcement, NVIDIA notes that both companies have ended their suits with the US courts, US ITC, and the US Patent office, effective immediately. In turn, both companies have agreed to cross-license “a small number of patents by each company to the other,” while noting that this is not a broad cross-licensing agreement. All other terms of the deal – such as any potential payments – are not being disclosed.

As noted by Bloomberg, NVIDIA faced a potential import ban on some of their products should they have lost the final ruling on the Samsung counter-suit, so combined with their earlier losses at the ITC, there was a clear need for NVIDIA to settle the case rather than waiting on ITC and court rulings. This, in turn, seemingly puts a wrench in NVIDIA’s overall mobile patent licensing efforts, as the Samsung case was their best opportunity to get a ruling that other mobile GPUs were violating their patents. That there is some cross-licensing going on between Samsung and NVIDIA does mean that NVIDIA holds at least some patents that Samsung believes they need, but that this is being settled quietly out of court means that it’s hard to imagine that NVIDIA has a strong position for further patent licensing efforts.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    They actually purchased it from AMD. AMD purchased ATI in 2006. But the Imageon line did not have modern GPU architectures, I think. I'm not really sure, though.
  • tuxRoller - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    Actually, qualcomm's gpu division ORIGINATED with bitboys before it was purchased by ati.
  • Kvaern2 - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    I believe the major mobile GPU designs all go a way back.
    Imagination and Falanx (Mali) are failed desktop graphics businesses which transitioned into mobile.
  • Communism - Monday, May 2, 2016 - link

    I called it from the beginning.

    There was no way Nvidia was possibly going to be able to outbribe, out-backroom deal a company that essentially owns a nation-state. South Korea is a wholely owned subsidiary of Samsung.
  • beginner99 - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    David vs. Goliath doesn't always end that well. NV made the classic mistake to never wake a sleeping dragon. I hope they have to dearly pay for it. I hate patent trolling.
  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    I doubt Samsung holds much ill-will towards NVIDIA. They were able to defend their position and that's that. Now I'm imagining both Samsung and NVIDIA want the same thing. Restrictions on Qualcomm's licensing practices. If NVIDIA had won Samsung would have been stuck between a rock and a hard place, needing NVIDIA's patents on one hand and Qualcomm's on the other. I can imagine both Apple and Samsung, as well as Qualcomm and ARM didn't want NVIDIA to succeed in their patent claims. That's a massive headwind if one has some doubts about the patent process. Probably only AMD wanted NVIDIA to succeed besides NVIDIA. But I doubt all those companies are out for any retribution against NVIDIA's attempt, including Samsung. NVIDIA is buying Samsung HBM2, in fact, and Samsung is trying to court NVIDIA's foundry demand.
  • invasmani - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    I highly doubt AMD wanted Nvidia to succeed and I'm so certain ARM cared one way or another they will make their licensing money either way without or without one or the being the bigger fish in the swimming pool.
  • BurntMyBacon - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    @invasmani: "I highly doubt AMD wanted Nvidia to succeed and I'm so certain ARM cared one way or another they will make their licensing money either way without or without one or the being the bigger fish in the swimming pool."

    It would effect their ability to license Mali and the value of that license.
  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    If NVIDIA could create a precedent that their patents are crucial, then AMD could more easily get licensing fees, too.
    "During the Raymond James’ Systems, Semiconductors, Software & Supply Chain Conference on December 8th. AMD’s Chief Financial Officer Devinder Kumar revealed that AMD has in fact considered legal action.

    Hans Mosesmann – Raymond James
    I think investors are interested in seeing how this plays out with Nvidia as part of their lawsuit against the Samsung and Qualcomm regarding fundamental Graphics IP, now AMD obviously has as well a very deep portfolio of Graphics IP. Has management considered a strategy to monetize that like Nvidia is doing, and what would you need to do this and start that effort?

    Devinder Kumar – SVP and CFO
    Yes. We have considered that and we will explore possibilities in that area as we move forward".

    ARM cares not for their CPUs or their ARM architecture, but because they also design GPUs, and they, too, might have had to license IP if NVIDIA had won.
  • testbug00 - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    AMD is monetizing it's IP. Did you miss their deal JV with a chinese company where AMD provides IP and is getting payment? AMD prefers to get things done and maintain good relationships with companies.

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