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A minefield of smartphone based patent disputes: Nvidia v Samsung
- AuthorPeter Dalton
Nvidia found itself in trouble at the end of the 2015 in respect of a patent dispute with Samsung. Nvidia started the dispute by suing Samsung in September 2014 for infringing its GPU technology patents. Samsung countersued Nvidia for patent infringement in respect of its Nvidia Shield Tablet, arguing that this infringed 3 of Samsung’s patents relating to circuit designs for microchips. The cases were heard before the International Trade Commission (ITC), and on 14 December 2015 Nvidia’s claim against Samsung was rejected. However, on 22 December 2015, a US trade judge found that Nvidia had infringed two of Samsung’s patents.
Nvidia is seeking a review of the decision by the full ITC, and at the same time plans to appeal the decision that its patents were not infringed by Samsung. If the decision against Nvidia is upheld by the full ITC, Nvidia could face an import ban of its Shield tablet into the US.
GPU technology is increasingly important to mobile device manufacturers, as so much gaming takes place on smartphone. Nvidia has long been trying to expand its business out from PC based graphics cards to mobile chip design. However, it has struggled to gain widespread adoption of its “Tegra” mobile chips, outside of its own Shield line-up of mobile gaming devices.
I own a Nvidia Shield device, and have found it pretty great, especially for streaming games from PC. However, this case highlights the minefield of smartphone based patent disputes that Nvidia is entering into as it tries to expand its business into mobile.