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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  • pugster - Sunday, August 26, 2018 - link

    I do agree with DigitalFreak on this one. AMD should be hitting on ARM and Imagination Technologies but decided to hit on the lowest hanging fruit which will affect the consumers rather than the companies who license this kind of stuff.
  • Reflex - Sunday, August 26, 2018 - link

    ARM and IT did not do anything illegal. It is legal to sell designs that rely on other's IP, and it is legal to do so without licensing or indemnifying their customers. In that business model, the OEM is responsible for securing the licenses required. This is not uncommon at all.
  • trparky - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    What is wrong with protecting one's intellectual properties? This is nothing at all like what happens in a certain court in the middle of Texas, this is AMD doing their due diligence in protecting their patents like any other company would do.
  • Stuka87 - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    Patent trolls don't build anything. They just own patents and litigate with them. AMD is protecting the IP that they developed and actively use in their own products.
  • ZolaIII - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    Correct, they buy IP's and sue other people. As actually described patents involved hire are both with acquisition of ATI not developed by AMD which technically makes AMD a patent troll in this case.
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

  • id4andrei - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    That's ridiculous. They didn't buy ATI to sue anyone. They bought ATI for its products. AMD is ATI's current reincarnation so to speak. Patent troll is Apple(and others) buying Nortel to sue other companies.
  • PixyMisa - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    Bullshit. They bought ATi to build and sell ATi products. They are the opposite of a patent troll.
  • rocky12345 - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    WOW the problem with what you said here is wrong.Yes they bought ATI but they also made products from the tech ati owned and still are doing that today. A patent troll buys patents then does nothing with them but sues everyone else that builds stuff that might come close to infringing on a patent but the troll don't care they hope to settle out of court most times and make millions from it.
  • ZolaIII - Sunday, August 26, 2018 - link

    So they both ATI, first two patents are from that time and the third one is actually the first one on the given structure which AMD still calls "APU" while SoC is much wider term. They fundamentally didn't improve anything, they are selling their own products on their own branding pretty much the same as QC did which has nothing to do with ATI expect fundamental design base's. They are suing smaller third party manufacturers like all patent trolling britches do hoping for fat financial gain, they aren't suing anyone from who they might lose like actual vendors or Apple. They can't sue QC as after all they both the same teach from ATI before AMD did, they won't sue ARM as tomorrow they might need it's IP portfolio. They won't sue Apple as Apple would ruined them in court. If that ain't patent trolling I don't know what is even patent troll of all times Rambus would be ashamed.

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