On November 21, 2014, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. of South Korea and Samsung Austin Semiconductor, LLC of Austin, Texas (collectively, "Samsung") filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337. Due to the size of the complaint we have split the complaint in four parts: part 1part 2part 3; and part 4.

The complaint alleges that the following entities (collectively, the "Proposed Respondents") unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain graphics processing units ("GPUs"), systems on a chip ("SoCs"), and products containing the same that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,147,385 (the '385 patent), 6,173,349 (the '349 patent), 7,056,776 (the '776 patent), and 7,804,734 (the '734 patent) (collectively, the "asserted patents"): 

  • NVIDIA Corp. of Santa Clara, California
  • Biostar Microtech International Corp. of Taiwan
  • Biostar Microtech (U.S.A.) Corp. of City of Industry, California
  • Elitegroup Computer Systems Co. Ltd. of Taiwan
  • Elitegroup Computer Systems, Inc. of Newark, Californiad
  • EVGA Corp. of Brea, California
  • Fuhu, Inc. of El Segundo, California
  • Jaton Corp. of Fremont, California
  • Mad Catz, Inc. of San Diego, California
  • OUYA, Inc. of Santa Monica, California
  • Sparkle Computer Co., Ltd. of Taiwan
  • Toradex, Inc. of Seattle, Washington
  • Wikipad, Inc. of Westlake Village, California
  • ZOTAC International (MCO) Ltd. of Hong Kong
  • ZOTAC USA, Inc. of Chino, California

According to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to structures, for example within chips and SoCs, for implementing metal gates, static random access memory arrays, bus systems, and data strobe buffer circuits.  In particular, the '385 patent relates to CMOS static random access memory, which is high-speed memory used, for example, for implementing cache and register files in processors and SoCs.  The '349 patent relates to bus communication systems and in particular to a shared bus system.  The '776 patent relates to semiconductor devices having two different types of transistor gates, such as NMOS gates and PMOS gates.  Lastly, the '734 patent relates to memory interfaces and, in particular, to data strobe buffer circuits that process the data strobe signals, which are, for example, signals indicating the start of data transfers to or from DDR SDRAM memories.

In the complaint, Samsung states that the Proposed Respondents import and sell products that infringe the asserted patents.  The complaint specifically refers to various NVIDIA GPUs, SoCs, graphics cards, computing boards, graphics boards, accelerator cards and modules, and processor modules as infringing products.  The complaint further specifically refers to various products associated with the other Proposed Respondents that contain the accused NVIDIA products as additional infringing products.

Regarding domestic industry, Samsung states that it makes extensive use of the inventions claimed in the asserted patents in numerous products manufactured at its semiconductor fabrication facilities in Austin, Texas.  Samsung states that these facilities have approximately 2.5 million square feet of total space and currently employ approximately 2500 people.  Samsung further states that it has invested over $15 billion in these facilities.

As to related litigation, Samsung states that it is a Respondent in ITC Inv. No. 337-TA-932, where NVIDIA Corp. is the Complainant.  See our October 9, 2014 post for more details.  Samsung also refers to pending district court actions in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia involving NVIDIA Corp.  Samsung also states that the '385 patent was previously asserted against Ericsson, Inc. and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, but that that case was dismissed pursuant to a settlement agreement.

With respect to potential remedy, Samsung requests that the Commission issue a permanent exclusion order and a permanent cease and desist order directed at the Proposed Respondents and others acting on their behalf.