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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  • chizow - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    Exactly, I think Nvidia went after Samsung/Qualcomm first to set precedence, but also because I think they are already working with Apple to license their GPU IP. It doesn't make sense to go after Apple if they are already in talks to license and I am sure the weight of those license fees will depend largely on the outcome or probability of a favorable outcome from this initial IP case.
  • Kyururin - Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - link

    Yay Nvidia wins, AMD close shop. :) I really hope this is the case because that way I get to see Nvidia fan boys pay $9999 for a Geforce 205, or $12000 for a 50Mhz overclocked one.
  • Michael Bay - Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - link

    You`ll be writing us letters on good old paper by that logic.
  • chizow - Thursday, April 9, 2015 - link

    Some idiot was saying this 9 years ago when Intel Conroe'd AMD...we'd be paying $10000 for our next CPU etc. etc.

    Oh wait, none of that ever happened.

    CPUs, GPUs are luxury toys, that's it, as such there's a ceiling on the price people will spend on them limited to their discretionary income. Intel, Nvidia, Samsung, Apple, they all know this. They can only charge so much for luxury toys, if they charge too much they just start hurting themselves by reducing total sales.
  • name99 - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    How do you know that Imagination or Apple haven't ALREADY licensed from nV (or even that they don't infringe)? Neither have a history of blatantly ignoring patents.
    You're constructing a narrative based on how you want the world to be, not on any actual facts.

    Compare, as an example the lawsuit filed after the release of Cyclone about memory-address disambiguation. That has disappeared without a trace; presumably because either Apple licensed the patent, or there was no infringement as soon as Apple explained what they were doing. (This is not so strange. When I was at Apple, we were sued by a large patent holder who was convinced that we were infringing some patent they had on how to connected decoded MPEG video frames to an underlying time base. Their lawyers explained the patent and why they thought we had to be infringing, and I told them that's very nice, and the naive way they described of solving the problem works, but it kinda sucks for the following reasons, and so therefore I used this much more sophisticated alternative. Point is, it was all a quite reasonable technical discussion: "we think you have to be doing A to solve this problem", "you're wrong, we do B to solve the problem", "ahh, you're right, NICE! OK, sorry to have bothered you." )
  • testbug00 - Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - link

    If the license was strong enough that Apple was licensing wouldn't Nvidia have said something? Did the license agreement with Apple state it cannot be disclosed? If so, wouldn't that imply that Apple would get something out of it? A free license? A super cheap license? It seems Nvidia would have more to gain having Apple out in the open besides Intel (who never specifically licensed there patents, making them a very weak example (imho, of course)) especially given Apple's willingness to fight over patents.

    That would indicate the patents aren't worth very much. Doesn't make much logical sense to me. As always, I could be wrong. It seems having an Apple license and keeping quite about it is a lose-lose no matter how it happens.
  • tviceman - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

    Is this as close as we'll get to an anandtech GTX 960 review?
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

    It's still on the list of things to do. Unfortunately it's not at the top of the list at this second.
  • Samus - Monday, April 6, 2015 - link

  • HisDivineOrder - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    I suspect this just means they'll get a better deal when all parties come to a settlement. And I bet nVidia's primary motivation in this case is to compel Samsung to rely less on Qualcomm and more on them.

    I also expect they want a payout from Qualcomm to grease the wheels.

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