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.

Related Reading:

Sources: ITC, Seeking Alpha, Bloomberg

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  • grahad - Sunday, August 26, 2018 - link

    Pass me what you're smoking cause it's sure some good stuff.
  • ZolaIII - Monday, August 27, 2018 - link

    It's a Troll Weed. Sure thing, just stand in circle.
  • hecksagon - Monday, August 27, 2018 - link

    AMD's hasn't improved over ATI's products that existed when they were bought? If that's the case why would anybody buy an AMD card? It would be 10x or more slower than modern Nvidia cards.

    Since when is LG ($11 billion market cap) or Vizio (private, $3.5 billion revenue 2017) meaningfully smaller than AMD? LG has over half the market cap AMD has and Vizio has over half the revenue.

    They wont sue Apple because they exclusively use AMD discreet GPUs. They won't sue ARM because they are an ARM licensee and already include some smaller ARM CPUs in their products. ARM also doesn't sell any products, only licenses designs.
  • close - Monday, August 27, 2018 - link

    @DigitalFreak: you have a very personal and creative definition of a patent troll. That basically refers to entities that don't use the patent for anything other than litigation. AMD is a tech powerhouse. If defending your IP is trolling then everybody's a patent troll.
  • name99 - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    Why is this stuff even IN a TV? Is this part of some smart TV BS?
    That would be such poetic justice — if Vizio had stuck to a pure TV (which is what many customers WANT) they would be fine, but by forcing unwanted crap on the customer, they get shut down.
    Ha ha!
  • milkywayer - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    Smart tvs when done right arent so bad. I wasn't a fan until i got my 2018 samsung and love the built in plex, netflix, twitch and BBC apps. Its just handy to have all these things on the tv controlled from a single remote without messing with 3,4 devices attached to the tv
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    I've read enough people whining about their outdated smart TV apps to try and stay away from it, personally. I'd much rather have a 30 to 100€ thing attached to any display that can act anyway I want to.
  • trparky - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    I have a smart TV, it's disconnected and I have a third-party smart device connected to it instead. Why? Because if Samsung treats my smart TV like they do their Android devices (lack of proper updates) my smart TV will be vulnerable before you know it.

    Best to keep it disconnected and leave the smart devices up to the companies that know how to handle them (Google, Apple, Amazon, etc.) instead of a company (like Samsung) that just wants you to buy a new TV every stinkin' year.
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    You're both right. The security on smart TVs is garbage and gets worse as they age. Plus the apps are just tolerable and get worse with time. On top of that, there's a price premium. Unfortunately, sometimes you're forced to pay it even if you don't want to - if the model you desire happens to be a smart TV, it's an unnecessary tax.

    The best way to go is to plug in a Roku, Fire, etc. If they get outdated, you can keep your TV and just swap the cheap little box. Another alternative (which I personally use on my primary TV) is a console. For example a One S can be had pretty cheap (especially on sale) and has HDR 4K BD support plus all the streaming apps, VLC, gaming, etc. Good affordable all-in-one.
  • valinor89 - Sunday, August 26, 2018 - link

    "i got my 2018 samsung" Let me know in 2-3 years how well all those apps are still working/supported...

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