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ITC opens investigation into Samsung's patent suit against Nvidia

Nvidia and Samsung have accused each other of infringing patents used in mobile devices, with Nvidia first filing suit against Samsung and chipmaker Qualcomm in September.

Samsung claims Nvidia's Shield tablet, pictured here, violates its patents.Photo by CNET

The battle between Nvidia and Samsung over patents rages on, with the US International Trade Commission on Tuesday saying it will look into Samsung's claims against Nvidia.

The ITC said it would open an investigation into claims by Samsung that Nvidia violated its patents in many of Nvidia's graphics chips and devices.

David Shannon, Nvidia's general counsel, in a blog post called the decision "typical legal ping pong." Nvidia first filed suit against Samsung in September, and Samsung lodged its own complaints shortly thereafter. Shannon added that Nvidia's ITC suit against Samsung likely will be the first decided by the courts.

"Nvidia remains focused on ensuring that we receive fair compensation from Samsung for using our technology in Galaxy phones and tablets," Shannon wrote. "We won't allow ourselves to get sidetracked by the company's attempts to intimidate our partners who have nothing to do with the unlicensed use of our IP. We look forward to the court setting this right."

Samsung didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The battle started in September when Nvidia sued Samsung and mobile-chip maker Qualcomm in a Delaware federal court for allegedly infringing its graphics patents. At the same time, 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 in October agreeing to investigate Nvidia's complaint.

Samsung's ITC complaint, filed in late November, 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 delivering a disastrous blow to Nvidia's finances.

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.

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