Samsung Wants Nvidia GPU Sales Banned in US

The device maker's petition filing to U.S. regulators is the latest move in an ongoing patent dispute with Nvidia over chip technologies.

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The ongoing patent dispute between Nvidia and Samsung is continuing to ramp up, with the device maker asking federal regulators to block the sale of Nvidia's graphics chips in the United States.

Samsung officials—whose patent infringement lawsuit against Nvidia was filed earlier this month, two months after the GPU maker filed its own lawsuit and complaint against both Samsung and Qualcomm—increased the pressure Nov. 20 when they filed a complaint the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

It was the latest move in an increasingly bitter dispute that began earlier this year after negotiations over licensing between the two companies broke down. Nvidia on Sept. 4 filed both a lawsuit in U.S. District Court and a complaint with the ITC. In that complaint, Nvidia officials asked the agency to block shipments of Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets that are powered by GPUs from Qualcomm (which offers the Adreno graphics architecture), ARM (Mali) or Imagination Technologies (PowerVR). The company also is seeking the district court to award damages.

Samsung, among the world's largest mobile-device vendors, has argued that any dispute Nvidia might have is with its component suppliers and not the company itself. Nvidia's lawsuit focuses on seven patents involving its GPU technologies.

In a post on the company blog after Nvidia filed its lawsuit in September, David Shannon, executive vice president, chief administrative office and secretary at Nvidia, wrote that his company has spent more than $9 billion in R&D since 1993 on its GPU technologies. Licensing the technology is a key way to get a return on the investment.

"With Samsung, NVIDIA’s licensing team negotiated directly with Samsung on a patent portfolio license," Shannon wrote."We had several meetings where we demonstrated how our patents apply to all of their mobile devices and to all the graphics architectures they use. We made no progress. Samsung repeatedly said that this was mostly their suppliers’ problem."

In another blog post after Samsung filed its own suit, he called the countersuit "a predictable tactic."

In its own lawsuit, Samsung is claiming that Nvidia is infringing on six of its patents that revolve around chip development technologies and involve tablets from Nvidia called Shield. The company launched the gaming tablet in July, and in September updated it with twice the memory (to 32GB) and 4G LTE connectivity.

In his blog on the Samsung lawsuit, Nvidia's Shannon also took Samsung to task for targeting a small Nvidia customer in Virginia, Velocity Micro.

"It’s unfortunate that Samsung sued Velocity," he wrote. "This isn’t Velocity’s fight. But Samsung is just trying to keep its lawsuit in Virginia, which has a faster time to trial than most jurisdictions in the United States. It can be a dangerous strategy for one of the largest companies on the planet to decide to sue one of the smallest companies in all of Virginia."

The ITC's notice of the filed complaint from Samsung lists 15 possible respondents—including Nvidia—with most being from California or Taiwan. The others are from Seattle and Hong Kong.