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Nvidia wants Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets banned

Nvidia is suing Samsung for alleged infringement upon its GPU patents, and wants the manufacturer’s most popular devices banned from sale in the US.

The American graphics chip specialist has filed a patent infringement complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against both Samsung and rival Qualcomm. The latter company, of course, provides the processors that power a large proportion of today’s top Android devices – including many of Samsung’s.

According to a recent blog post from Nvidia’s David Shannon, this move apparently comes at the end of two years of failed licensing negotiations between the three companies. “Samsung repeatedly said that this was mostly their suppliers’ problem,” says Shannon.

The company also points out that this is the first time its has initiated a patent lawsuit in its entire 21-year history.

It seems the dispute relates to Nvidia’s instrumental role in the creation of the GPU, which “puts onto a single chip all the functions necessary to process graphics and light up screens.” It also relates to the company’s patents for shading and multithreaded parallel processing. Put simply, neither of the two aforementioned companies is paying a license fee for what Nvidia sees as patented GPU technology.

The upshot of it is that Nvidia is looking to block imports of any Samsung devices that utilise Qualcomm’s Adreno, ARM’s Mali or Imagination’s PowerVR graphics architectures until such a licensing agreement can be agreed.

Nvidia has named 12 of Samsung’s devices that it wants banning, and they include such big hitters as the Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Tab S, and the Galaxy Note 3.

Of course, this would appear to affect a far broader array of devices than just Samsung’s. If the court rules in favour of Nvidia on this one, the repercussions for Qualcomm and the wider smartphone and tablet world could be significant.

Watch this space.

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