Monday, May 13th 2019

NVIDIA Sued by Company Behind Big Samsung and Broadcom IP Dispute Wins

NVIDIA has been patent-trolled sued over patent-infringement by Xperi, parent company of Invensas Corporation and Tessera Advanced Technologies. Xperi alleges that NVIDIA violated five of its U.S. patents, bearing numbers 5,666,046; 6,232,231; 6,317,333; 6,849,946; and 7,064,005, which mainly deal with the physical and electrical innovations behind packaging of NVIDIA GPUs (mating of the die with a substrate that has a ball/pin-grid that interfaces with the PCB). NVIDIA designs the GPU die and hands over its packaging requirements to TSMC. The Taiwanese semiconductor fabrication giant oversees both the manufacturing of the GPU die, as well as its packaging. Despite this technicality, Xperi alleges that NVIDIA is responsible for the design of the overall GPU, including its package, and must answer for its wrongdoing.

Xperi is not your average back-alley IP hoarder technology inventor. The San Francisco-based company won IP disputes with several semiconductor giants, including Samsung Electronics and Broadcom. In both cases, Xperia won settlements, making it a giant-killer given its roughly $1.2 billion-market cap. In his Q1 2019 Earnings Call, Xperi CEO Jon Kerchner stated "...Today we filed a lawsuit against NVIDIA for patent infringement. We believe that NVIDIA is using our patent semiconductor technology in certain of its CPUs and processors and we have been speaking with NVIDIA for several years about taking a patent license. We ultimately could not reach an agreement and we felt that we needed to take this action to defend our intellectual property rights. We filed the case in Delaware Federal Court asserting 5 patents."
Sources: Tom's Hardware, Seeking Alpha
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23 Comments on NVIDIA Sued by Company Behind Big Samsung and Broadcom IP Dispute Wins

#1
Caring1
You say Patent troll, I say smart business.
Nvidia dropped the ball and missed the opportunity to renew or purchase the patents in question, so sad, too bad.
Posted on Reply
#2
londiste
Links from Tom's Hardware article:
http://www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/5666046 - Reference voltage circuit having a substantially zero temperature coefficient
http://www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/US-6232231-B1 - Planarized semiconductor interconnect topography and method for polishing a metal layer to form interconnect
http://www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/US-6317333-B1 - Package construction of semiconductor device
http://www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/US-6849946-B2 - Planarized semiconductor interconnect topography and method for polishing a metal layer to form interconnect
http://www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/US-7064005-B2 - Semiconductor apparatus and method of manufacturing same

Considering they got settlements out of Samsung and Broadcom, Xperi is likely to win. On the other hand, Nvidia is no slouch either. Reading the patents, I really have to wonder if these are that unique - some of these seem to be somewhat close to common sense. On the other hand, Samsung had a patent license agreement which expired, a bit after that Xperi sued them. The win against Broadcom did not come too easily either.

Edit:
Tessera has been to courts with a lot of players in the field. Among others they sued AMD in 2005 who settled in 2013.
Posted on Reply
#3
TheLostSwede
Caring1 said:

You say Patent troll, I say smart business.
Nvidia dropped the ball and missed the opportunity to renew or purchase the patents in question, so sad, too bad.
If a company doesn't make any products or create new innovations, but rather make all their money from buying patents from third parties and then use them to sue companies that are using similar technology, then they're a patent troll. This seems to a clear case of a patent troll in action.
Posted on Reply
#4
Ferrum Master
TheLostSwede said:

If a company doesn't make any products or create new innovations, but rather make all their money from buying patents from third parties and then use them to sue companies that are using similar technology, then they're a patent troll. This seems to a clear case of a patent troll in action.
It almost is modern mafia like... asking for protection money lol or else :D

These things are actually sad.
Posted on Reply
#5
londiste
In this case, I am not sure if Xperi is patent troll or not. The company does seem to be doing R&D or has been doing significant R&D in the semiconductor packaging field, making it a valid (not a patent troll) patent holder. The history from last decade or so, on the other hand, has a lot of IP acquisitions.
Posted on Reply
#6
TheLostSwede
londiste said:

In this case, I am not sure if Xperi is patent troll or not. The company does seem to be doing R&D or has been doing significant R&D in the semiconductor packaging field, making it a valid (not a patent troll) patent holder. The history from last decade or so, on the other hand, has a lot of IP acquisitions.
Xperi seems to be a holding company of some kind, with the R&D being done at wholly owned subsidy Invensas, which kind of still makes them a patent troll. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xperi
Posted on Reply
#7
londiste
TheLostSwede said:
Xperi seems to be a holding company of some kind, with the R&D being done at wholly owned subsidy Invensas, which kind of still makes them a patent troll. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xperi
Subsidiary is still effectively part of a company. R&D is ongoing, their patents hold up and are not without merit. Their lawsuits do not appear to be frivolous either. While we may disagree on whether company focusing on gathering (whether by R&D or acquisition) IP rights has a valid business case or good ethical standpoint, the general perception of a patent troll implies stupid patents, generally bought for cheap and indiscriminate and frivolous lawsuits. This does not seem to be the case here.

I mean, I do not like the way this looks but when I try to look at this objectively, Xperi does not necessarily qualify as a patent troll.
Posted on Reply
#8
_Flare
We need more global free common IP

i bet some day i get sued over patent-infringement for "using a round thing as a wheel" whoever holds that patent

Anyone who harasses a court with such a trolling, should be expropriated.
Posted on Reply
#9
TheLostSwede
londiste said:

I mean, I do not like the way this looks but when I try to look at this objectively, Xperi does not necessarily qualify as a patent troll.
You might be right. They seem to be in the same boat as Rambus and similar companies though. They use fringe cases to sue companies.
Posted on Reply
#10
Beertintedgoggles
_Flare said:

We need more global free common IP

i bet some day i get sued over patent-infringement for "using a round thing as a wheel" whoever holds that patent

Anyone who harasses a court with such a trolling, should be expropriated.
We do have global free common IP..... after the patent expires. Those who invent require some kind of protection against the theft of their work or else what's the point? For the greater good?? Let's see how well that greater good pays for future R&D. In fact, there are times when a company will seal their IP in a time stamped envelope and not patent (called trade secrets). That way they don't have to worry about making their property public; however, they also can't sue over any infringement in that case either. In some one tries to patent that trade secret, the original company can then prove with their sealed and dated envelope in the courts that they were first but now the cat is out of the bag and if a patent is sought it will granted starting with the date on the envelope (the start of the patent date may have changed since I was last in the loop). But to worried about being sued over "using a round thing as a wheel" is either at best being completely naïve on how the patent system works and what happens when they expire or at worst trying to use scare tactics and OMG..... it's so outlandish!!!!
Posted on Reply
#11
BorgOvermind
NVIDIA also used wood screws to fake their 'new video card' presentation a few years back and got away with it (not even a fine from what I remember) so I'm amazed someone actually won against them.
Posted on Reply
#12
birdie
The most disgusting thing about all patents litigations is that the actual people/teams behind the patents don't get anything off these litigations.

And they say slavery has long been abolished.
Posted on Reply
#13
Beertintedgoggles
birdie said:

The most disgusting thing about all patents litigations is that the actual people/teams behind the patents don't get anything off these litigations.

And they say slavery has long been abolished.
Oh please.... they get a salary, likely health benefits, 401k matching. Some companies even have programs that provide bonuses for granted patents. Now if the company was trying to take the patent rights from something the employee did on their own free time and with no supporting effort by the company, its property, or its resources then that argument holds merit. However, comparing it to slavery???? No one is forcing those employees to work at that company. I'm pretty sure if they weren't being paid, they wouldn't show up and no one would come tracking them down to force them to come work. Just because a company tries to protect its property does not make it evil.
Posted on Reply
#14
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
BorgOvermind said:

NVIDIA also used wood screws to fake their 'new video card' presentation a few years back and got away with it (not even a fine from what I remember) so I'm amazed someone actually won against them.
Nobody won. They are currently being sued.

And what does wooden screws on a presentation have to do with anything? Heck even new cars teased at some auto shows are only mock-ups, especially the concept cars. I consider that to be the same category.
Posted on Reply
#15
yakk
Patents is now an industry in itself, so it must make profit.

Well, maybe not necessarily make profit (Uber, Lyft), but at least have the potential appearance to anyways.
Posted on Reply
#16
Totally
Beertintedgoggles said:

We do have global free common IP..... after the patent expires. Those who invent require some kind of protection against the theft of their work or else what's the point? For the greater good?? Let's see how well that greater good pays for future R&D. In fact, there are times when a company will seal their IP in a time stamped envelope and not patent (called trade secrets). That way they don't have to worry about making their property public; however, they also can't sue over any infringement in that case either. In some one tries to patent that trade secret, the original company can then prove with their sealed and dated envelope in the courts that they were first but now the cat is out of the bag and if a patent is sought it will granted starting with the date on the envelope (the start of the patent date may have changed since I was last in the loop). But to worried about being sued over "using a round thing as a wheel" is either at best being completely naïve on how the patent system works and what happens when they expire or at worst trying to use scare tactics and OMG..... it's so outlandish!!!!
"Those that invent" does Xperi fall into that category.
Posted on Reply
#17
Beertintedgoggles
Totally said:

"Those that invent" does Xperi fall into that category.
According to the US Patent and Trademark Offices they do: patents # 5,666,046; 6,232,231; 6,317,333; 6,849,946; and 7,064,005. Once those have expired, everyone and anyone can use that IP freely.
Posted on Reply
#18
Ubersonic
we have been speaking with NVIDIA for several years about taking a patent license. We ultimately could not reach an agreement and we felt that we needed to take this action to defend our intellectual property rights.
I felt a little sorry for Nvidia until I read that lol, no excuse.
Posted on Reply
#19
Vayra86
Caring1 said:

You say Patent troll, I say smart business.
Nvidia dropped the ball and missed the opportunity to renew or purchase the patents in question, so sad, too bad.
You know what that reminds me of? Kids in elementary school that quickly take your seat the moment you got up from it, yelling 'na-na-na nananana'

Ubersonic said:

I felt a little sorry for Nvidia until I read that lol, no excuse.
No excuse? What if the licensing fee they asked for was ridiculously high? Which is usually the case... "here's an offer you must refuse"

The real question that should be asked, and that goes for the entire US patent system really, is 'how does this help the creator / society / the economy'. The answer is that these companies help nobody but themselves and they have nothing to show for it. They don't do anything with the technology or patent except swing it around to sue others. These companies are a straight up cancer that should be eradicated, its a dynamic of utter waste of time and resources. The only winners are the lawyer firms and a few whales.

White collar mafia indeed.

londiste said:

Reading the patents, I really have to wonder if these are that unique - some of these seem to be somewhat close to common sense.
This is exactly what's wrong with the patent 'business' in the US. In history it has happened countless times that in the same age people get to similar ideas, simply because its logical, or a natural evolution of things and ideas. Should that be patented, or is it as you put it very well: 'common sense'. The fact you can even get things like 'rounded corners' patented is a massive fail in the first place. It means the system needs adjustment.
Posted on Reply
#20
Totally
Beertintedgoggles said:

According to the US Patent and Trademark Offices they do: patents # 5,666,046; 6,232,231; 6,317,333; 6,849,946; and 7,064,005. Once those have expired, everyone and anyone can use that IP freely.
That's the problem. It shouldn't be allowed to purchase a patent and then have free reign to sue anyone and everyone. That privilege should be reserved for the original patent holder. If a company purchases patent(s) to be considered and innovator they then have to actually produce a product.
Posted on Reply
#21
The Jedi
Totally said:

That's the problem. It shouldn't be allowed to purchase a patent and then have free reign to sue anyone and everyone. That privilege should be reserved for the original patent holder. If a company purchases patent(s) to be considered and innovator they then have to actually produce a product.
That sounds like an actual solution I would be for. What's to say TSMC being a veteran in this business didn't develop their own tech independently? It is after all a Taiwan company manufacturing in China. What about Taiwanese patents TSMC has? International agreements on IP and trade come into play.
Posted on Reply
#22
Caring1
Totally said:

That's the problem. It shouldn't be allowed to purchase a patent and then have free reign to sue anyone and everyone. That privilege should be reserved for the original patent holder.
Patents are proof of ownership, if the original owner died, the patent shouldn't end there.
Posted on Reply
#23
Totally
The Jedi said:

What's to say TSMC being a veteran in this business didn't develop their own tech independently? It is after all a Taiwan company manufacturing in China. What about Taiwanese patents TSMC has? International agreements on IP and trade come into play.
I believe that is a real problem faced today. Afaik, the same patent has to be and are filed in every country/region a that protections are desired.

Caring1 said:

Patents are proof of ownership, if the original owner died, the patent shouldn't end there.
In that scenario Estate rules would apply and a named inheritor would succeed as the 'original' patent' holder. In the event that there isn't an inheritor or inheritor wants nothing to do with it and sells it. My suggestion comes into play and burden of proof falls on the party acquiring the patent that they have an actual use for the patent other than as a legal weapon to extort money from others. This way patents could only be used as originally intended as proction and only protection.
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