In a quick update to the ongoing legal saga between NVIDIA, Samsung, and Qualcomm over the future of GPU patents and licensing, NVIDIA has published an update on the case after their most recent hearing.

As is now common for patent infringement lawsuits, a pre-trial Markman hearing was held by the judge overseeing the case in order to better determine the language of the patents, the actual legal claims, and how they will be interpreted by the judge at trial. The purpose of a Markman hearing is essentially to hammer out legal definitions ahead of time so that the case is argued and decided on facts and merits as opposed to arguing the definition of various terms and technologies.

In what NVIDIA calls a “favorable ruling” from the ITC, NVIDIA has received what they consider to be favorable definitions in 6 of their 7 disputed claims. To be clear this is not any kind of ruling on the validity of the claims themselves, but only that the court has (largely) sided with NVIDIA’s definitions for those 6 claims.

As for the importance of this pre-trial hearing, as NVIDIA is the plaintiff in this case, doing well at the Markman hearing is essentially one of the several hurdles they have needed to clear to bring the case to a full trial. Alongside various pre-trial motions to have the case outright dismissed, a poor Markman hearing outcome can stop a case as it would have put NVIDIA on the back foot in the full trial. This latest ruling essentially means the case wil proceed as planned, with the next hearing scheduled for June.

Finally, NVIDIA also posted a quick update on Samsung’s counter-suit against NVIDIA and Velocity Micro. The judge in that case has denied NVIDIA’s request to have the case moved from Virginia (Velocity Micro’s home state) to California (NVIDIA’s home state).

Source: NVIDIA

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  • Penti - Friday, April 10, 2015 - link

    T&L was known before the patent in this suit was filed, S3 had their HW T&L card on the market before Nvidia sought protection ('488) and you can't patent things that are already disclosed to the public or used by someone else, though S3's implementation was broken. It probably takes more than implementing a software pipeline in hardware to actually invent stuff that's patentable too. The scope is probably too broad.

    Qualcomm is sued, but they (Nvidia) admit in the filing/suit that they never ever talked to Qualcomm and that they never told Qualcomm that they were infringing or what they infringed upon. Just read the suit as said. That they weren't bothered by Intel's XScale mobile processors with integrated graphics between say 2004-2006 before the sale to Marvell (or concerned about Marvell after the sell i.e. 2006-today) is not going to help. That they weren't concerned about Samsung's ImgTec use between say 2004-2011 (they licensed the tech in 2004 and onwards) is not going to help their case. That they weren't concerned about Freescale's use of PowerVR and Vivante graphics IP between 2005-today is not going to help. Neither should that they never went after TI and others for the use of PowerVR, Vivante or Mali graphics. Neither should it help that they never talked to Qualcomm despite the fact that they had a modern mobile gpu on the market before Nvidia, despite that they knew about the 2008/09 sale of the Adreno tech they never actually informed Qualcomm until they filed the lawsuit on September 4th 2014. In the future it looks like Samsung will be a minor Qualcomm customer and corporations like Microsoft, Xiaomi, Lenovo/Motorola Mobility, Huawei, LG, Sony and others is the main Qualcomm users on the market. Many of the patents hadn't been issued when Intel and Nvidia entered into their 2004 agreement – which was about chipset licensing They also dug up a 3dfx patent to use in the suit.
  • Morawka - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    your licensing estimates are waaaay off. Arm charges way more than that.

    Arm charges licensing fee's per Core. Big.Little design's means 8 cores.

    The fee per core is determined by device retail cost. on a $650 phone it's more like $15 just for the cores, and another $5 for graphics ip.

    The Nvidia vs Samsung case comes down to this.

    Samsung was paying Nvidia licensing money for several of their patents. They been paying them for 4 years...

    Then when the S5 came out, is when Samsung said, "nah, those patents are to general, we decided we shouldn't be paying for them anymore." So they stopped paying, hence nvidia gets mad and threatened to sue. Which they made good on their threat eventually.

    Now nvidia's already mad, and if they are going to go through with all the trouble of a trail, then we might as well be damn sure we go after the right person. So they start at the device maker, and work their way up.

    TLDR: Samsung stop paying their licensing fee's and nvidia sued to make them pay.
  • HighTech4US - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    Quote: Samsung was paying Nvidia licensing money for several of their patents. They been paying them for 4 years...

    Absolute fabrication: This NEVER HAPPENED
  • Penti - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    Nvidia didn't bundle and sell these patents to anyone including Intel which they claim is covered by their 2011 agreement. Nvidia didn't even tell Qualcomm about the patents and only disclosed some of the patents to Samsung in 2014 shortly before they filed their suit. You can clearly see that in Nvidia's filing. They just dug up obscure stuff and didn't even ask for licensing fees until Aug 2012 but without disclosing what they thought was infringing or most of the patents used in the suit.
  • Samus - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    Seriously...when the S5 came out? Then why does this case represent failed negotiations stemming from Feb 2012 (GS3-era?)

    I guess in your world nVidia KNEW Samsung was going to infringe to they preemptively attempted to license? This case may cover half a decade of Samsung devices for all we know...if nVidia began approaching Samsung in 2012, it could very well involve IP used in the Galaxy Tab and the Epic 4G Touch. We'll know more when the trial starts.
  • name99 - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    Regardless of the merits of the suit, nV is under no obligation to license its patents at all, or to license them at a price you (or Samsung) find "reasonable".

    IF you ask for your patents to be made part of a spec (eg WiFi, ethernet, LTE) then you have to offer fair and reasonable licensing. But not in general.

    If you want to go down this path of defense, you'd have to show something like nV offered these particular patents to Khronos as a more-or-less essential part of one or more of their specs. I'm unaware of anything like that.
  • hung2900 - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

    Apple uses Imagination's GPU in every iPhone and iPad, and if nVIDIA wins, much more money it gains, but nVIDIA didn't sue Apple.
    The reason is simple: this kind of patent sueing is broken in the US. Companies like Samsung is more vulnerable in a case like this, while nVIDIA can't touch Apple in the US (remember: Obama vetoed, lol)
  • vladx - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

    Nvidia wouldn't sue Apple anyways since they'd lose a lot more money if Apple would pick AMD over Nvidia for the GPU part.
  • TheJian - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

    WRONG. They'll sue as soon as they have precedent set from the first case, or use that case to get apple to settle (which if rumors are true apple is already talking to them, and surely after hearing the court reads the patents NV's way so far). Why would you go after the most influential company first? Samsung is outside usa, and Qcom is your mortal enemy at this point with nothing to gain from them (samsung has a modem, fabs, screens etc, so lots to deal over there).

    Imagination's PowerVR architecture is named also as something they wanted blocked. One you win this, apple can't ship a phone/tablet either, so no point in hitting them until you shutdown samsung based on the same gpus. Apple won't fight in court if they know they have a total loser, they'll wisely deal as opposed to having to possibly delay a launch that would cost them a huge portion of the market to someone else (probably samsung, once suit is done and settled they'll still be shipping). Apple is likely dealing as we speak to switch to NV gpus (there is no way imagination would win a suit vs. NV, and they make so little <60mil/yr they'd die before it was over), since a victory in samsung suit means the next case would probably have a higher chance of banning products as IMG.L stuff would already be infringing via samsung suit. A court would look and see they already are infringing here "apple" so stop shipping or deal outside court immediately. I'm sure apple would like terms NOW before NV wins and has a sledgehammer in their hands for leverage to use in negotiations.

    I don't think anyone would want to be stuck with a diminishing gpu return vs. Intel's side. AMD looks like they're on their way down on gpu just like cpu (can't sell current stuff, so delay on 300's for months, no profits etc), and the apus will get squeezed to death by INTEL vs. ARM war in the race down/up for both. You couldn't go AMD ONLY for long without screwing your mac/macbook etc sales. IE, the current Mac Pro has two FirePro D700's (same as W9000's) that put out 7TF, which is pretty much exactly what NV does with TitanX with far less power used (same story with M6000 probably).
    Cuda 3x faster in Adobe Premiere than AMD w/OpenCL. They pretty much take every test here but sony vegas (who uses that instead of premiere when buying CUDA cards? Only Anandtech...LOL). Check out the conclusion page on how Cuda is massively used by apps and OpenCL in some cases is just dumped (pages on sites not updated since 2012...LOL).

    Anandtech chooses sony vegas because you don't want people knowing Cuda is 3x faster ;) Considering the tests results of all the benchmarks they ran (and it was vs. Kepler/fermi), you can't screw NV without screwing yourself :) It boggles the mind when I see anandtech avoid cuda like the plague vs. AMD in anything and OpenCL. They should choose the most popular apps that use both, or pit say, Sony Vegas+AMD/OpenCL running the same test/operations vs. Adobe Premiere+NV/Cuda. There are a ton of apps you can run OpenCL plugins vs. Cuda versions (3dsmax, Premiere goes either way in mercury engine, Cinema4d, Blender, Lightwave, Maya etc). Yet Anandtech keeps running stupid synthetic junk or stuff nobody makes money with (bitcoin mining, F@H etc...LOL). I digress...

    One quote from the last page of the article that pretty much sums it all up:
    "If you want to use V-Ray, i-ray, or Octane Render, you effectively need an NVIDIA GPU -- V-ray might technically support OpenCL, but we couldn't get it working. The company's OpenCL page hasn't been updated since 2012 and basically tells users to switch to CUDA. Other applications, like SolidWorks and AutoCAD, tilt so strongly in Nvidia's favor they may actually offset the increased price." (note maya/creo in spec favors NV now after NV fixed drivers that caused a regression in perf). For pros, price usually isn't an issue and NV pretty much wins period.
  • FlushedBubblyJock - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    Yep, there we go - maybe total amd fanboyism can destroy the 3300% cuda advantage, then we can all be mediocre.

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