In more than two decades, graphics chipmaker Nvidia has managed to avoid lobbing patent lawsuits at rivals, a practice that apparently ends this week as the company breaks out the big guns against Samsung and Qualcomm.
Nvidia announced the filing of seven patent infringement complaints with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) against mobile giants Samsung and Qualcomm over the former's refusal to license patented GPU technology.
The complaint takes direct aim at Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets "containing Qualcomm's Adreno, ARM's Mali or Imagination's PowerVR graphics architectures," which Nvidia claims were produced using the company's intellectual property "without proper compensation to us."
In addition to a potential award for damages, Nvidia has asked the ITC to block shipments of all affected Samsung Galaxy devices, a potentially fatal outcome for the Korean manufacturer as sales have already begun a downward trajectory.
A supplier's problem?
Nvidia claims the company initiated licensing negotiations with Samsung for its patent portfolio, "where we demonstrated how our patents apply to all of their mobile devices and to all the graphics architectures they use" over several meetings.
Those discussions apparently fell on deaf ears, with Samsung repeatedly asserting that Nvidia's request was "mostly their suppliers' problem," which presumably explains why Qualcomm has been dragged into the proceedings.
Out of Nvidia's 7,000 issued patents, only seven have been taken out of the filing cabinet to use as leverage, primarily focused on the company's GPU invention, including multithreaded parallel processing used on the company's graphics chips.
Neither Samsung nor Qualcomm has responded to the accusations, filed Thursday afternoon at the US District Court in Delaware; although Nvidia also cited potentially infringing graphics architectures from ARM and Imagination, neither company appears to be targeted with this complaint.
- It's a fine time to revisit our review of the Samsung Galaxy S5!