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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  • frenchy_2001 - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - link

    This is a very complex case at its core, dealing with:
    1) who is responsible for licensing IP? Chip designer, chip manufacturer or device assembler (in this case, ARM/Qualcomm, Qualcomm/Samsung and Samsung respectively)
    2) are mobile processors infringing nvidia IP? This will be settled in court, but signes point to yes, as the biggest part of the desktop graphic race (and as such research) was done by the 2 horse race of nvidia and AMD. They have a cross licensing agreement, but it seems Qualcomm did not inherit from that during their purchase of Adreno.
    3) What remedy will be available? Does nvidia want licensing and payment or just ban all their competition (they would be in their right to do it if they won, as they have no obligation to license those patents).

    A case that will decide the fate of mobile 3D and probably fatten up nvidia's pockets.
  • Penti - Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - link

    If you read the suit you see that they never talked to Qualcomm and the sell of the Adreno tech would not have happened if there were any intellectual property problems. Nvidia certainly use semi tech developed by Qualcomm, Samsung and ARM, and even Imagination does have a range of graphics patents which they infringe. Going to ITC makes it all look bad for Nvidia as they claim customers can happily buy Intel or Nvidia chips instead. But Nvidia was mostly absent in the early 2007-2010 era and didn't have any products (at all) to sell when the smart phone platforms (OS's) took form. Neither did Intel in that specific era and Intel was in dispute with Nvidia over cross licensing until 2011. First 3 patents were disclosed to Samsung on 7 August 2012 and the last 2 on 15 January 2014. So they can't really claim that the supposedly infringing products could have been replaced by something else, but they do try. The patents weren't used or disclosed previously and they are not really any strong patents. They might get cross licensing deals out of it, but I couldn't imagine why anyone would pay them for that. It's not like this tech was developed in secret but that is required to patent it.
  • creepypixie - Thursday, April 9, 2015 - link

    And the fact that the price differential between Intel and AMD products has been increasing ever since is - what - good for the consumer?

    How are CPUs and GPUs in phones "Luxury Toys"?

    How is additional licensing fees, paid to nVidia, and no doubt eventually passed on to the retail price good for the consumer?

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