Nvidia takes a blow in patent dispute against Rambus

Could Nvidia find itself forced to license patents from Rambus? As Reuters reports, the U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that Nvidia infringed on three Rambus patents, setting the stage for a possible ban on imports of "some Nvidia products"—unless Nvidia pays up, that is.

Rambus filed a lawsuit against Nvidia way back in July 2008, claiming the firm violated no less than 17 patents. The dispute centered on the memory controllers in Nvidia's graphics processors, chipsets, applications processors, and other products. Those memory controllers operate with memory types Rambus lays claim to, like GDDR3.

Nvidia may not have to settle just yet. Reuters says that, according to an initial ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Rambus "may not have full claim to some of the patents involved in the current dispute." Nvidia General Counsel David Shannon expects a decision later this year, and he told Reuters, "We're going to continue to take the necessary steps to move forward with our arguments, not necessarily just with the ITC, but certainly in the Patent and Trademark Office."

Meanwhile, Rambus will order a review of findings that go against its interests. Rambus General Counsel Tom Lavelle also went on record as saying he wishes to have "productive settlement discussions" with Nvidia. Rambus landed a juicy, $900-million settlement from Samsung just last week. (Thanks to TR reader Jive for the tip.)

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