Samsung seeks broad US ban on Nvidia products

In a new suit with the US International Trade Commission, Samsung asks the agency to bar from the US dozens of Nvidia devices, graphics cards and processors.

The South Korean tech giant this month filed two suits against Nvidia and its partners. CNET

Samsung Electronics is attempting to bar a huge swath of Nvidia products from entering the United States, as part of an escalating legal battle between the two tech companies.

In a complaint filed Friday with the US International Trade Commission, Samsung called on the federal agency to investigate Nvidia for what it says are violations of Samsung patents. The complaint, which the ITC published publicly this week, is the latest in a series of patent-related legal actions between the two companies that kicked off with Nvidia suing Samsung and mobile-chip maker Qualcomm in September.

Samsung's ITC complaint asked the agency to investigate Nvidia and 11 of its partners for allegedly infringing four patents involving chip structures, memory arrays and other chip-related technologies. It asked the commission to permanently bar from the US dozens of Nvidia products, including its Shield tablet computers, GeForce graphics processors, Tegra mobile chips, Quadro graphics cards, Tesla accelerator cards, and Grid computing boards, as well as several partners' tablet computers and gaming consoles using Nvidia chips.

If it's successful in the ITC complaint, Samsung will have prevented a large amount of Nvidia's products -- touching just about every one of Nvidia's businesses -- from entering the US, potentially serving a disastrous blow to Nvidia's finances.

"We will take all appropriate measures to defend our intellectual property rights," Samsung said in a statement Monday.

An Nvidia representative said the company couldn't comment as it hadn't yet reviewed the complaint.

In addition to Nvidia, the companies named in Samsung's ITC suit are Biostar Microtech, Elitegroup Computer Systems, EVGA, Fuhu, Jaton, Mad Catz, Ouya, Sparkle Computer, Toradex, Wikipad and ZOTAC, which all sell products using Nvidia technology.

The ITC filing is the latest step in a tit-for-tat between Nvidia and Samsung. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nvidia issued the first volley in September, with suits to the ITC and a federal court in Delaware that claimed Nvidia's graphics patents were being violated. It called for the ITC to block shipments of some of Samsung's best-selling smartphones and tablets into the US, including the Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4 smartphones, and the Galaxy Tab S and Tab 2 tablets.

Nvidia's litigation has moved forward, with the ITC last month agreeing to investigate Nvidia's complaint.

Nvidia's suits stem from the company's push to license its graphics technology in more mobile devices. While Nvidia has been in talks with several companies, including Samsung, it still hasn't announced any new licensing deals. Samsung, which is the world's largest maker of smartphones, generally uses its own and Qualcomm's chips in its phones.

South Korea-based Samsung shot back earlier this month with its own civil suit in Virginia, claiming Nvidia and its customer Velocity Micro, as a whole, violated eight of its patents. The eight patents mentioned in the civil suit were different from the four mentioned in the ITC suit. Also, while the civil suit referenced only a few Nvidia products, including the Tegra mobile chip and GeForce graphics processor, the ITC complaint mentioned far more Nvidia products.

An ITC representative wasn't immediately available for comment Tuesday. But the commission typically aims to determine whether to initiate this type of investigation within 30 calendar days of a complaint being filed.

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