Roughly a year and a half ago, NVIDIA opened up a patent infringement case against Samsung and Qualcomm, claiming that the various GPUs used by the two firms violated various NVIDIA patents. In response, Samsung opened up their own counter-suit, claiming that NVIIDA and its partners were violating Samsung patents. Since then, things have not progressed well for NVIDIA, with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling that Samsung’s GPUs don’t infringe on NVIDIA’s patents, while also ruling that NVIDIA’s GPUs did infringe on Samsung’s patents.

Now with the final ruling on Samsung’s counter-suit originally scheduled for today, NVIDIA has announced that they have buried the hatchet with Samsung, ending all litigation between the companies. In their announcement, NVIDIA notes that both companies have ended their suits with the US courts, US ITC, and the US Patent office, effective immediately. In turn, both companies have agreed to cross-license “a small number of patents by each company to the other,” while noting that this is not a broad cross-licensing agreement. All other terms of the deal – such as any potential payments – are not being disclosed.

As noted by Bloomberg, NVIDIA faced a potential import ban on some of their products should they have lost the final ruling on the Samsung counter-suit, so combined with their earlier losses at the ITC, there was a clear need for NVIDIA to settle the case rather than waiting on ITC and court rulings. This, in turn, seemingly puts a wrench in NVIDIA’s overall mobile patent licensing efforts, as the Samsung case was their best opportunity to get a ruling that other mobile GPUs were violating their patents. That there is some cross-licensing going on between Samsung and NVIDIA does mean that NVIDIA holds at least some patents that Samsung believes they need, but that this is being settled quietly out of court means that it’s hard to imagine that NVIDIA has a strong position for further patent licensing efforts.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • MrCommunistGen - Monday, May 2, 2016 - link

    Good. I'd rather both companies spend their resources on innovation instead of lawyers.
  • jasonelmore - Monday, May 2, 2016 - link

    what possible GPU patent could samsung have that warranted the ITC to side with them? Samsung's doesn't even make a gpu do they?

    Nvidia invented the GPU with the Geforce 256, so it's kind of absurd, and makes me question the ITC's motives.
  • MrCommunistGen - Monday, May 2, 2016 - link

    The GeForce 256 is far from the first GPU, from NVIDIA or otherwise so I'd question that they "invented" GPUs.

    I only glanced at some of the linked articles but it looks like some small functional unit(s) within the GPU are what are under contention, not the entire concept of a GPU.
  • Morawka - Monday, May 2, 2016 - link

    Prior GPU's depended on the CPU to do transforms and lighting. Thats why the 256 was so ground breaking at it's released. It was where the term "GPU" was widely used and Nvidia marketed it that way.
  • silverblue - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    They popularised the term "GPU" but they didn't invent the technology; they were merely the first people to bring a hardware T&L product to the consumer PC space.
  • Arnulf - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    What about 3DFX Voodoo line?
  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    Voodoo never had a dedicated TnL unit.

    However... Today's GPU's also don't have a TnL unit either, that fixed function hardware was abolished and is now done in the pipelines... Thus technically... GPU's today are technically not GPU's anymore. :P
  • Samus - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    I consider a GPU a programmable FPU, unlike purpose built ASIC's or optimization\arithmetic specific CPU's (ARM, x86)

    All modern GPU's are GPU's. They literally do things a CPU can't. Sure a lot gets offloaded to a CPU now, and certain GPU features have been abandoned such as T&L, physics, etc, but a CPU doesn't take DirectX commands, compile CUDA, and isn't optimized for in-order math.

    But the point is, nVidia opened a can of worms here. They believed their position was stronger than it actually was because they are the father of the modern GPU, and those who argue 3Dfx is, are right, but don't forget who bought 3Dfx's patent portfolio.

    Like the OP said, nVidia needs to stick to engineering, not litigation.
  • tyleeds - Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - link

    It might actually be fairer to say that Imagination technologies was the father of the modern GPU as they pre-date nVidia, battled 3dfx in the original Voodoo and Voodoo2 days and are the driving architecture behind the vast majority of mobile 3d chipsets today.

    Many of the features of modern non-PowerVR GPU's are directly related to tactics originally developed for the tile-based rendering on powerVR chipsets.
  • ET - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    Your question can be easily answered by going to the linked news report about the Samsung win. To quote (because I'm sure you're too lazy to follow that even with prompting): "The patents cover an implementation of SRAM, a shared computer bus system with arbiter and a memory sub-system with a data strobe buffer."

    In short, not GPU specific.

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