The International Trade Commission (ITC) issued
a ruling issued Monday finding that some of Nvidia's products violate patents held by Rambus.
The ITC issued its notice of final determination in the action brought by Rambus against NVIDIA and other Respondents. In its notice, the ITC has affirmed the findings of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), with certain modifications. The final determination, including such modifications, has yet to be released.
On November 6, 2008, Rambus filed a complaint with the ITC requesting an investigation pertaining to certain NVIDIA products. The complaint sought an exclusion order barring the importation, sale for importation, and sale after importation of products that infringe nine of Rambus? patents. The accused products include graphics processors, application processors, media and communications processors, and chip sets which incorporate infringing memory controllers. The complaint named NVIDIA as a proposed Respondent, as well as companies whose products incorporate the accused NVIDIA products and are imported into the United States. These Respondents include: Asustek Computer Inc. and Asus Computer International, BFG Technologies, Biostar Microtech and Biostar Microtech International Corp., Diablotek Inc., EVGA Corp., G.B.T. Inc. and Giga-Byte Technology Co., Hewlett-Packard, MSI Computer Corp. and Micro-Star International Co., Palit Multimedia Inc. and Palit Microsystems Ltd., Pine Technology (Macao Commercial Offshore) Ltd., and Sparkle Computer Co. Four of the asserted patents were later withdrawn from the investigation.
An evidentiary hearing on the asserted patents was held before the ALJ on October 13-20, 2009. On January 22, 2010, the ALJ issued an initial determination finding two Rambus patents to be not valid. The ALJ further determined three Rambus (Barth) patents valid, enforceable and infringed by the Respondents.
Today, Rambus received notice of the ITC?s intent to issue a Limited Exclusion Order barring the importation of Respondents? infringing products into the United States, as well as Cease and Desist Orders barring identified Respondents from selling any infringing products that were previously imported into the United States. Under the Limited Exclusion Order, the infringing products may be imported and sold during a 60-day Presidential review period if Respondents post a bond. The Commission has specified that the bond amount is 2.65% of the entered value of the subject imports.
"The ITC's decision is another demonstration of the value of our continued commitment to innovation," said Thomas Lavelle, senior vice president and general counsel at Rambus. "We are extremely pleased with the ITC's decision to issue a Limited Exclusion Order, signaling the strength of our innovation efforts beyond the Farmwald-Horowitz patents of our founders. The value of our patented inventions has been recognized by our current licensees, and we will continue our efforts to license others."
Nvidia said that the rulling will not have any impact on Nvidia's customers, adding that the company would take a license from Rambus that Rambus was required to make available as a condition of a 2009 settlement with the European Commission. Nvidia is also expected to appeal the case to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year rejected 49 claims in patents that Rambus asserted against Nvidia. Rambus continues to fight that ruling.