AMD has won a round in its legal battle against makers of TVs at the United States International Trade Commission (US ITC). The Commission found that Vizio and Sigma Designs have infringed one of AMD’s patents covering fundamental aspects of modern GPUs. The ITC ordered to cease imports of some of Vizio TVs to the U.S.

Back in early 2017, AMD filed a lawsuit with the US ITC against LG, MediaTek, Sigma Designs, and Vizio. The plaintiff accused the defendants of infringing three patents covering fundamental aspects of contemporary graphics processing, such unified shaders (‘133), parallel pipeline graphics system (‘506), as well as a graphics processing architecture employing unified shaders (‘454). Furthermore, the complaint referenced an in-progress patent application covering GPU architectures with unified shaders (‘967) and accused two of the said companies of infringing it as well. Meanwhile all the defendants license (or licensed) their GPU technologies from ARM and Imagination Technologies (though, as we reported back in early 2017, it looks like AMD only accuses SoCs based on ARM’s architecture of infringing its patents).

Eventually, LG settled with AMD out of court. Meanwhile, MediaTek, Sigma Designs, and Vizio are still parts of the US ITC investigation. This week the Commission found that certain Vizio-branded TVs based on Sigma's SoCs infringe claims 1-5 and 8 of AMD's ’506 patent that covers a parallel pipeline graphics system.

The ITC notice does not disclose which products infringe AMD's patent, nor does it list the TVs now barred from the U.S. Keeping in mind that Vizio used certain SoCs from Sigma Designs, which is about to be liquidated, it is unlikely that TVs in question are current, new models. Unfortunately, due to lack of details, it is unclear how important the win is for AMD and what are possible implications for the parties involved. Meanwhile, after issuing a cease and desist order, ITC terminated the investigation, but did not order defendants to pay any remedies.

The List of AMD's Patents Allegedly Infringed by Defendants
Patent Name Abstract Description Asserted Claims Filing Date Infringing
IC Products*
7,633,506 Parallel pipeline graphics system The parallel pipeline graphics system includes a back-end configured to receive primitives and combinations of primitives (i.e., geometry) and process the geometry to produce values to place in a frame buffer for rendering on screen. 1-9 November 26, 2003 MediaTek Helio P10

7,796,133 Unified shader A unified shader unit used in texture processing in graphics processing device. Unlike the conventional method of using one shader for texture coordinate shading and another for color shading, the present shader performs both operations. 1-13 and 40 December 8, 2003
8,760,454 Graphics processing architecture employing a unified shader A GPU that uses unified shaders 2 - 11 May 17, 2011 MediaTek Helio P10
Patent Application 14/614,967 1-8 June 27, 2016
*The list of infringing products is not limited to two ICs.

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Sources: ITC, Seeking Alpha, Bloomberg

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  • PixyMisa - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    Patent troll? They've been building and selling products described by this patent for more than a decade. (Counting ATi.)
  • trparky - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    Exactly! Any time a company uses their patents to protect themselves everyone gets their pants in a twist because OMG... PATENTS ARE BAD! Give me a break!
  • stephenbrooks - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    Patents are so last century. Open source hardware will win in the end.
  • Manch - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    Let me know when an open sourced GPU that performs is available. LOL
  • rocky12345 - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    Yea that's it lets just have a free for all in the hardware industry that should go over well.../s & lmao
  • trparky - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    If you want to make any money, that kind of idea won't work. Do you know what money is? It's that stuff that makes the world go round, allows you to put food on the table, a roof over your head. You know, silly things like that.
  • FunBunny2 - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    "If you want to make any money, that kind of idea won't work. "

    well... not necessarily. much/most of the basic research leverage by PhARMA, for free as in public domain, is by the Damn Gummint. mostly the USofA. so yeah, socialism works perfectly when exploited by lazy and cheap capitalists.
    "every new drug approved by the FDA between 2010 and 2016. The authors found that each of the 210 medicines approved for market came out of research supported by the NIH."

    the same thing could be done in tech. in fact, a lot of what exists today in modern society was born in the space programs of the 60s to 80s. paid for by taxpayers.
  • Magnus101 - Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - link

    Patents in pharma is killing people in develped countries.
    When a company have a monopoy to develop and sell a certain type of medicine (exclisive rights means monopoly) and make the price skyrocket, they can't afford the drugs.
    If generic versions of the drug would have been available at a reasonable price, many would have been saved. Both from suffering and death.
    The same goes for patent on GMO crops where if they even spread from one farm to another by air, the farmer may get sued!

    So patents aren't only bad for competition and the market as a whole (if you are for a free market then you should be against patent in this modern age).
    It is bad in so many respects that it should be scrapped of totally.
    Look at the very PC we use today.
    IBM choosed not to patent the general design of it.
    Cloes apperaed.
    Did it kill the market?
    Without the open architecture for PC:s, the rapid development in that area would have been stifled.
    It was extremely good for competition.
    Being open is always good.
    Patents was maybe a good idea in the 1800:s, but in todays world with fast paced development cycles where software is at the central for many products, it has no place at all!
  • Santoval - Monday, August 27, 2018 - link

    Open source hardware is not and cannot be free (free as in beer) like free and open source software (FOSS), because it is one thing to donate your spare time to develop, test and debug FOSS and quite another to design, develop, manufacture, test, debug and sell for free hardware. The ISA and the basic design of the CPU or GPU are free, not their hardware implementations. Open source hardware simply means patent-free hardware.

    Now, depending on the license that might be also apply to hardware derivatives and modifications (with a sort of hardware-GPL) or it might not (with a less restrictive open source license). To my knowledge RISC-V employs a less restrictive license, so modifications of the ISA and the basic design can be made proprietary and thus patented, along with adding proprietary extensions and blocks.

    This was in order to entice companies to adopt RISC-V, and apparently it has worked (Western Digital's upcoming SSD controllers will be RISC-V based, for instance, while others have developed prototypes or plan to release RISC-V hardware). Companies can potentially make more money out of RISC-V, since they do not have to license the ISA and the basic design, while they can also protect their modifications and extensions from being copied by competitors.
  • Morawka - Sunday, August 26, 2018 - link

    The main issue at heart is this: patents protect companies for far too long. 20 years, especially in the field of electronics, is unreasonable. Especially on technologies that can be seen as natural evolution of design. It holds back humanities progress towards technological evolution.

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