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ARM: Mali graphics tech does not infringe Nvidia’s patents

Chief executive officer of ARM Holdings on Monday defended the company’s Mali graphics technology in connection to a patent suit by Nvidia Corp against Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm. The executive of the technology developer said his company will assist Samsung in its legal fight with Nvidia.

Samsung uses ARM’s Mali and Imagination Technology’s PowerVR graphics processing technologies in its system-on-chips for smartphones and tablets. Earlier this month Nvidia said that Samsung’s application processors infringe its patents. While the company did not sue ARM or Imagination, it asked court in the U.S. to stop sales of devices powered by the chips that infringe its patents.

“We stand behind our IP. To the extent that we need to, we absolutely work with our partners when something like this happens,” said Simon Segars, CEO of ARM, in an interview with Reuters.

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Nvidia uses ARM’s general-purpose processing cores inside its Tegra application processors for mobile devices and cars. Therefore, it is unlikely that Nvidia will sue ARM itself. Still, given the fact that Samsung is the world’s largest supplier of smartphones, its problems may affect ARM as well.

“It does create a bit of a curious situation,” said Mr. Segars. “But we do a lot of business with a lot of people.”

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KitGuru Says: While it is obvious that ARM will have to defend Samsung and prove that the IP which Samsung gets from ARM do not infringe any patents, it is completely unclear how exactly ARM plans to do it. If ARM’s clients will have to pay Nvidia for its patents, then it will make no sense for them to license ARM’s IP and they will have to license Nvidia’s graphics cores instead.

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