Over a month ago we wrote AMD is going after LG, MediaTek, Vizio and Sigma Designs for violating its graphics patents. The company failed a claim with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) and the latter agreed on Friday to open an investigation:
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has voted to institute an investigation of certain graphics systems, components thereof, and consumer products containing the same. The products at issue in the investigation are televisions, smartphones, tablets, wearable devices, graphics processors, integrated circuits, and other consumer products containing such components and systems.
The investigation is based on an amended complaint filed by Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., of Sunnyvale, CA, and ATI Technologies ULC of Markham, Ontario, Canada, on March 2, 2017. The amended complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain graphics systems, components thereof, and consumer products containing the same that allegedly infringe patents asserted by the complainants. The complainants request that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders.
The USITC has identified the following as respondents in this investigation:
LG Electronics, Inc., of Seoul, Republic of Korea;
LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc., of Englewood Cliffs, NJ;
LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc., of San Diego, CA;
VIZIO, Inc., of Irvine, CA;
MediaTek Inc., of Hsinchu City, Taiwan;
MediaTek USA Inc. of San Jose, CA; and
Sigma Designs, Inc., of Fremont, CA.
By instituting this investigation (337-TA-1044), the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case. The USITC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge will assign the case to one of the USITC’s administrative law judges (ALJ), who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The ALJ will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337; that initial determination is subject to review by the Commission.
The USITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the USITC will set a target date for completing the investigation. USITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are effective when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative within that 60-day period.
Samsung is already paying money to AMD to license these patents.
Engadget reports this action should be seen as a proxy war against firms like ARM and Imagination Technologies:
It's much easier to target the hardware companies, since they're the ones selling tangible products -- AMD can profit from its patent collection (which it planned to do back in 2014) more easily than it can if it sues over fuzzier concepts like chip architecture. Both Samsung and AMD's former manufacturing wing GlobalFoundries are already licensing the patents, so AMD may already have an advantage here.
The site also speculates that there are already ARM-based chips that use a newer architecture (Bifrost) that might not be affected by the AMD patent claims.