In an interesting turn of events, Samsung (KRX: 005935) has decided to counter Nvidia’s (NASDAQ: NVDA) lawsuit against Samsung and Qualcomm with a suit of its own against Nvidia in Virginia District Court. All of the legal documents are not publicly available yet, so anyone interested to see details of this filing will be forced to head on over to legal360 to get the details of the case. According to them, Samsung alleges that Nvidia and Velocity Micro infringe upon 8 patents of their own that they have filed in the past. Those patents are:
5,860,158 – Cache control unit with a cache request transaction-oriented protocol
6,282,938 – Method for rolling a metal strip
6,287,902 – Methods of forming etch inhibiting structures on field isolation regions
6,819,602 – Multimode data buffer and method for controlling propagation delay time
8,252,675 – Methods of forming CMOS transistors with high conductivity gate electrodes
6,804,724 – Analog/digital display adapter and a computer system having the same
7,073,054 – Computer system and method for booting up the same
5,777,854 – Integrate flexible contacts grounding system for a computer system chassis
6,262,938 – Synchronous DRAM having posted CAS latency and method for controlling CAS latency
This lawsuit appears to be almost as frivolous as Nvidia’s suit against Samsung and is structured similarly. Samsung is essentially going after Nvidia in this lawsuit, but is simultaneously going after one of Nvidia’s partners who utilize that technology in order to make it pay for its lawsuit against Samsung. Nvidia’s original lawsuit was a clear jab at Qualcomm and pulled Samsung into the lawsuit because they are one of Qualcomm’s biggest customers and the leading Android smartphone manufacturer.
The interesting thing is that Samsung claims that Nvidia is also making false claims about its products (where it competes with Samsung). The company specifically outlines that it is falsely advertising the Shield tablet, which Nvidia claims to have the world’s fastest mobile processor. However, according to Samsung, they state that ‘standard benchmarking tools’ show that the tablet’s performance isn’t as fast as Samsung’s own Exynos 5433 SoC, which is in the Galaxy Note 4. Interestingly enough, if you go to Futuremark’s website and check the PCMark for Android benchmark the four fastest devices are all Nvidia Tegra devices, including the HTC Nexus 9. What’s interesting is that Samsung didn’t go after HTC and the Nexus 9 even though it uses an Nvidia Tegra K1, indicating that they probably don’t want to burn that bridge by suing them. Also, if you go to Rightware’s Powerboard, which measures their own benchmark (Basemark OS II) Nvidia-based devices are 2nd and 3rd fastest after Apple’s A8X in the iPad Air 2 showing that Samsung’s Exynos chip is nowhere near the fastest according to industry standard benchmarks. You can also go to Kishonti’s GFXBench tables and once again Nvidia-based tablets take the top spot, nullifying any of Samsung’s own claims.
Let’s be honest here, Nvidia’s original patents are already fairly questionable and generic in terms of scope and clearly indicate the company’s desire to license their GPU IP and force others to do so as well, especially if they’re competitors like Qualcomm. Nvidia burned the bridge with Samsung as a result of this suit and now Samsung is lodging an equally ridiculous lawsuit against Nvidia in hopes of possibly canceling out Nvidia’s lawsuit. It isn’t quite clear what either company hopes to achieve here, but the end result will hurt consumers and very likely drive up legal costs for all of the companies involved, which will impact profits for some smaller companies like Nvidia and Velocity Micro.