ITC Judge: Samsung Did Not Infringe on Nvidia Graphics Chip Patents

Samsung last week cleared a hurdle in defending itself in an ongoing patent dispute. In a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), Samsung Electronics was cleared of wrongdoing regarding its use of graphics chip technology owned by Nvidia Corp., but the South Korea-based company isnEUt quite out of the woods yet.

Administrative law judge Thomas Pender said Samsung did not infringe on two Nvidia patents, ruling that none of three graphics processor units licensed by Samsung -- QualcommEUs Adreno, ARM's Mali and Imagination's PowerVR -- infringe on NvidiaEUs vertex processing patent, or on the company's patent on multithreaded execution of programs.

Also at issue was a third patent, NvidiaEUs shadow mapping technology. In that case, the judge ruled that all three GPU families infringe on the patent -- but that the specific claim on the patent by Nvidia was invalid because it was not a new invention compared with previously known patents. Because of that ruling, Samsung cannot be held liable for violations of an unenforceable patent.

Another Ruling Coming

A Nvidia spokesman said that the ruling has yet to be reviewed by the full six-member commission, which is set to make a final determination on the matter in February. Nvidia wants the commission to review PenderEUs initial determination and to confirm a previous judgment of the U.S. Patent Office -- that the third patent is valid. If they agree, the ITC could issue an order keeping Samsung from importing some mobile devices and smart TVs into the U.S.

"This initial determination is one more step in a long legal process," said David Shannon, Nvidia's chief administrative officer, in a blog post.

Import Ban?

Nvidia said that it invented the first graphics processing chip and released it in 1999. Nvidia had filed a complaint with the ITC just over a year ago against...

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