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Nvidia Flouts 3 Samsung Patents, ITC Judge Rules

A U.S. International Trade Commission judge issued an initial finding Tuesday that Nvidia violated a trio of Samsung’s memory and data patents, a ruling that comes just weeks after the full commission found in a separate investigation that Samsung did not infringe several patents belonging to Nvidia.

ITC Administrative Law Judge David P. Shaw issued a final initial determination finding that Nvidia Corp. infringed three patents belonging to Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. — U.S. Patent Numbers 6,147,385; 6,173,349; and 7,804,734.

“As explained in the ID, the administrative law judge determined that a violation of Section 337 [of the Tariff Act] has occurred with respect to [the three patents],” the ITC said in a one-page notice announcing the ruling.

A full version of Judge Shaw’s initial determination remains confidential, but a public version explaining his reasoning will be filed within 30 days, according to the ITC.

Nvidia posted a statement on its website Tuesday saying the company is disappointed by Judge Shaw’s decision and that it “will seek a review by the full ITC, which will take several months to issue its ruling.”

The company said the instant case was a retaliatory action that Samsung filed in response to Nvidia’s own suit against the South Korean tech giant before the ITC.

“Since we don’t import any significant amount of products directly, [Samsung] had filed the suit to enjoin the imports of several small companies that use our products,” Nvidia said in its post.

Samsung initially filed the ITC complaint that led to Tuesday's ruling in November 2014, with the commission agreeing to institute an investigation about a month later.

Samsung alleged that Nvidia and a dozen other associated companies manufactured, imported and sold products such as tablets and video cards for computers that infringed several of its patents, all of which pertained to various aspects of memory technology and data-transfer arrays, according to the complaint.

The complaint by Samsung came about two weeks after the company filed a suit in Virginia federal court against Nvidia over another set of video and memory patents and about two months after the ITC agreed to investigate Nvidia’s complaint that Samsung’s tablets and smartphones infringed on its own, different set of graphics processing patents.

In the earlier ITC case filed by Nvidia, the commission this month cleared Samsung and Qualcomm Inc. of allegations they violated two Nvidia graphics patents, upholding an administrative law judge's decision and ending its investigation of the Korean smartphone giant.

Nvidia initially filed its complaint in the earlier case in September 2014, accusing Samsung and Qualcomm of violating patents for graphics processors it says it invented and asking the court to block shipments of the allegedly infringing devices. The chipmaker had also sued the companies in Delaware federal court, seeking unspecified damages and an injunction against infringement.

While Nvidia’s district court case in Delaware was stayed in October 2014 pending the resolution of the proceedings before the ITC, Samsung’s suit in Virginia federal court remains pending.

Counsel for Samsung was not immediately available for comment late Wednesday.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Numbers 6,147,385; 6,173,349; and 7,804,734.

Samsung is represented by D. Sean Trainor, Gregory S. Arovas, James E. Marina, Jon R. Carter, Edward C. Donovan and Bao Nguyen of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Nvidia and the other entities named in the case are represented by Bert C. Reiser, Maximilian A. Grant, Jonathan D. Link, Matthew D. Aichele, Ron E. Shulman, Rick G. Frenkel, Clement Naples, Michael A. David and Julie M. Holloway of Latham & Watkins LLP.

The case In the Matter of Certain Graphics Processing Chips, Systems on a Chip and Products Containing the Same, investigation number 337-TA-941, before the U.S. International Trade Commission.