Nvidia v Qualcomm, Samsung: Thumbs up from judge in patent row

Beak says patent language means what Nv says it means

Nvidia has won an important early victory in its ongoing patent litigation against Qualcomm and Samsung, with a judge in the US International Trade Commission ruling in Nvidia's favor as to the language of the disputed patents.

"We're very pleased with the outcome of the ruling," Nvidia said in a Monday blog post, "in which claim constructions favorable to Nvidia will be applied to six out of seven disputed claims when the judge considers the question of Samsung's and Qualcomm's infringement."

The ruling was the result of a pretrial hearing, known as a "Markman hearing," in which a judge hears evidence from both sides of a patent dispute as to the specific meanings of key words in the asserted patents.

Because a Markman ruling sets the legal standard by which patents will be interpreted in an eventual jury trial, it can be an important indicator of the expected outcome of the trial as a whole.

This was the first such dance for Nvidia. As it noted in its blog post, the patent lawsuit it filed against Qualcomm and Samsung in September 2014 is the first in its 22-year history, despite holding some 7,000 issued and pending patents.

Nvidia alleges that the graphics coprocessors found in Samsung mobile phones infringe on seven of its patents – no matter whether the GPUs in question are based on ARM's Mali, Imagination Technologies' PowerVR, or Qualcomm's Adreno technology.

Neither ARM nor Imagination is named as a defendant in Nvidia's suit.

Qualcomm and Samsung both dispute Nvidia's assertions and Samsung, for one, has already struck back. The Korean firm fired off a counter-suit against Nvidia and one of its customers in November, claiming Nvidia's tech violates six of its own patents.

Samsung's suit was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Nvidia's co-defendant, Velocity Micro, is headquartered. Nvidia had sought to have the case moved to its own home base of Northern California, having claimed that the only reason Samsung named Velocity at all is because Virginia "has a faster time to trial than most jurisdictions in the United States." But Nvidia said on Monday that District Judge Robert Payne denied its motion and any eventual trial will proceed in Virginia.

"We continue to believe Samsung's claims have no merit, and that Samsung's effort to sue a small company selling NVIDIA-based products in Virginia is entirely unwarranted," Nvidia said. ®

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