Back in July, RPX announced a deal with ZiiLabs – a subsidiary of Singapore’s Creative Technology – which halted US patent infringement litigation against seven defendants, at least some of whom are members of the aggregation service. As part of the agreement, ZiiLabs assigned an unspecified number of patent rights to RPX.
At the time, this blog speculated on just what the bounds of the deal were, and how much room it would leave ZiiLabs to continue to monetise the patent portfolio it acquired as part of a 2002 buyout of chip designer 3DLabs. A new lawsuit filed in the district court in Delaware against Nvidia answers some of those questions. And it seems to suggest that ZiiLabs and parent Creative are set to remain Southeast Asia’s key patent player.
The RPX settlement deal ended a major campaign, relieving Sony, Qualcomm, LG Electronics, MediaTek, Lenovo and AMD of both assertions in ED Texas and a parallel ITC investigation. It looked to have a monetary value of around $31 million to the Singapore company, based on earnings guidance it gave investors at the time. But the announcement did not mention – nor have subsequent assignment records clarified – just how much of the 3DLabs portfolio RPX might have taken off the market through outright acquisition.
In ZiiLabs’ suit against Nvidia, none of the patents involved in the RPX-settled cases make a re-appearance. But the plaintiff does plainly have options when it comes to its remaining 3DLabs portfolio. There are four US patents involved:
- 6,683,615* - Doubly-virtualized texture memory
- 7,050,061* - Autonomous address translation in graphic subsystem
- 7,710,425* - Graphic memory management with invisible hardware-managed page faulting
- 9,098,943 - Multiple simultaneous bin sizes
*asserted against Samsung in 2014
Three of the four patents were asserted against Samsung in a 2014 assertion which also featured Apple as a counter claimant. That case and several associated IPRs were eventually settled out of court. There was very little overlap between the patents which compelled a settlement with Samsung and those asserted in the RPX-settled cases. The Nvidia suit, then, seems to confirm that the RPX deal has left ZiiLabs with potentially some of its most valuable 3DLabs assets.
As ZiiLabs initiates a new campaign, parent Creative is trying to save its Zen patent (6,928,433), a licence to which was worth $100 million to Apple back in 2006. In March 2016, it brought new cases against seven major defendants, along with parallel ITC investigations. It was before the ITC that an administrative law judge invalidated the Zen patent on Alice grounds, potentially quashing the whole campaign. Creative appealed that ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which heard oral arguments just yesterday. Whatever happens, the Singapore company doesn’t seem ready to back down from enforcing its patents just yet.