Samsung Electronics on Friday filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking to stop sales of Nvidia Corp.’s GeForce graphics processing units as well as Tegra system-on-chips since they infringe its patents. The move is a yet another step in the legal battle between Nvidia and Samsung, which accuse each other of patent infringements.
Samsung asked the U.S. ITC to conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, regarding certain GPUs and SoCs as well as products on their base. If the ITC finds that devices based on Nvidia’s chips violate Samsung’s patents, it may stop their sales in the U.S. Investigations of such kind usually take years and the vast majority of products in question never get banned. A copy of the complaint was not available at press time; it is unclear which Nvidia chips Samsung wants to be blocked from the U.S. market.
“We have not seen the complaint so can’t comment, but we look forward to pursuing our earlier filed ITC action against Samsung products,” said Hector Marinez, a spokesman for Nvidia, in a brief conversation with Bloomberg news agency.
Nvidia accused Samsung of patent infringement back in September. Samsung develops Exynos system-on-chips based on technologies from ARM Holdings and Imagination Technologies as well as uses application processors from Qualcomm inside its smartphones and tablets. Nvidia believes that Samsung’s SoCs and devices use its intellectual property as they contain graphics processing units developed by either of the three third-parties (ARM, ImgTec, Qualcomm). Nvidia holds many patents that cover fundamental aspects of graphics processing technologies. Nvidia demanded ITC to ban sales of numerous Samsung’s products in the U.S.
Samsung backfired at Nvidia in early November, when it accused the multimedia chip designer of multiple patent infringements. The patents discussed in Samsung’s lawsuit against Nvidia cover memory controllers, cache control units, data buffering as well as chip manufacturing technologies. All the patents that Samsung uses against Nvidia cover fundamental technologies.
After Samsung filed a lawsuit against Nvidia and Velocity Micron in eastern district court of Virginia, USA, it was a matter of time before the company asks the U.S. ITC to stop sales of Nvidia-powered devices in the country.
It is noteworthy that among the defenders – besides Nvidia – Samsung named companies like ECS, EVGA, Ouya and Zotac in its lawsuit. The conglomerate did not mention large suppliers of Nvidia-based graphics cards, such as Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology and MicroStar International.
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KitGuru Says: Traditionally, companies accused of patent infringements in the high-tech industry try to find ways to get round certain patents in order to ensure that their new products (which do not infringe them) remain on the market no matter what the court decides. However, in the case of Nvidia vs. Samsung both companies accuse each other of infringements of fundamental patents, which cover very basic principles and cannot be avoided. That said, there is no doubt that Nvidia and Samsung will have to settle the dispute somehow. The question is what Nvidia wants from Samsung and what the latter will be eager to provide in exchange. The war on the market of GPU-related patents has actually started. Earlier this year ZiiLabs accused Apple and Samsung of patent infringements, but, unlike Nvidia, ZiiLabs actually wants material awards, not technologies, from Samsung.