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Samsung, Nvidia patent spat ends with a whimper

A settlement is reached just in time. Now the US trade commission doesn't have to issue a decision, as was planned, about whether it would ban Nvidia products in the country.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Nvidia may have just dodged a bullet.

The company on Monday said it has reached a settlement with Samsung to end all pending intellectual property litigation in the US. The deal was just in time -- the US International Trade Commission was slated to issue a decision later Monday as to whether it would ban Nvidia products from sale in the US. But with the suit dismissed, it no longer has to. In December, a judge had said Nvidia infringed Samsung's chip patents.

"The settlement includes the licensing of a small number of patents by each company to the other, but no broad cross-licensing of patents or other compensation," Nvidia said in a press release. It declined to comment further or give details of the agreement.

Samsung said in a statement that it is "happy to resolve this dispute through a fair settlement."


Nvidia's patent infringement suit against Samsung didn't quite go as it expected. The company, which is best known for making graphics chips for PCs, filed suit against Samsung and Qualcomm -- which provides chips for many Samsung devices -- in September 2014. It accused them of ripping off its graphics technology for their smartphone chips. Samsung countersued.

This past October, an ITC administrative law judge wrote that Samsung didn't infringe on Nvidia's graphics patents. He also determined one of Nvidia's three patents was invalid because the technology had already been covered in previously known patents. Then in December, the ITC upheld that initial ruling and said that Nvidia actually infringed on Samsung's patents. The final ITC decision about the case was slated to be announced Monday.

Qualcomm was only involved in Nvidia's initial case against Samsung, not in other spats at the ITC and in Virginia. The plans to dismiss all litigation with Samsung also will drop the case against Qualcomm, which declined to comment.

The fight between Samsung and Nvidia was only the latest in a series of lawsuits in the hot mobile sector. The most notable has been the battle between Apple and Samsung, the world's two biggest mobile companies. The companies have been fighting for the past several years over technology used in its smartphones and tablets. The two companies in 2014 agreed to settle all disputes outside the US, but the US Supreme Court has said it would take up their case this year.