Nvidia's lawsuit against Samsung for alleged patent infringement hit a major roadblock on Friday after an ITC judge wrote that Samsung was not guilty.
Nvidia suffered a huge setback this week after a US International Trade Commission judge ruled that Samsung had not violated patents for their graphics technology. According to a report from CNet, judge Thomas B. Pender wrote that one of Nvidia’s patents was also invalid because the technology had already been claimed by earlier patents.
Nvidia will now have to rework its strategy to compete with Samsung, after several unsuccessful attempts to prove that the Korean tech giant used its graphics technology illegally. Samsung, the world’s largest producer of smartphones, would have faced a ban on US shipments of products including the Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy Note 4, and Galaxy S5 if they had been found guilty. The judge’s decision is not a final ruling, and the International Trade Commission will have to decide on the matter as a whole.
According to a spokesperson for Nvidia, the company will not give up on its efforts to prove that Samsung illegally used their technology. Samsung did not issue a comment on the matter.
Nvidia is famously known for making graphics chips for personal computers. The company filed lawsuits over seven different patents with the ITC and the U.S. District Court in Delaware in 2014. Nvidia asked the International Trade Commission to block shipments of Samsung smartphones and tablets to the United States, and sought damages from the company over the alleged misuse of technology.
Samsung hasn’t always used Nvidia graphics chips. In fact, it often uses Qualcomm’s processors in some of its high-end smartphones and tablets. The Note 4 uses a Snapdragon 805 chip, and the company also uses its own Exynos chips in various models that are sold in Korea. It also uses Exynos chips in its newest products, like the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy Note 5.
The lawsuit alleges that devices using Qualcomm’s Adreno graphics, ARM Holdings’ Mali technology, and Imagination’s PowerVR graphics architecture violated patents held by Nvidia, the other main competitor in the field. The lawsuit covered alleged patent violations for both smartphones and tablets, including the Galaxy Tab S, Tab 2, and Note Pro.
Nvidia’s lawsuit is just one in an industry that resorts to legal action on a regular basis to protect intellectual property rights. This is far from the first intellectual property dispute that involved Samsung – the company has fiercely battled their rival Apple in recent years over various technologies used in smartphones and tablets. Apple and Samsung agreed last year to settle all of their disputes outside of the United States, but suits started before this deal remain ongoing.
Microsoft has also sued Samsung for allegedly violating its patent licensing agreement for various technologies used in Android tablets and smartphones.
The International Trade Commission sees a lot of lawsuits like this, as they work to settle trade disputes between companies for a wide variety of reasons. Civil lawsuits can take a long time to be resolved, and the appeals process makes this an even lengthier ordeal. The ITC has the power to place sales bans on companies it finds guilty of wrongdoing, and has been used as an agent of competition.
Last November, Samsung countersued Nvidia in a Virginia federal court, alleging patent infringement as well.