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OPTi claims infringement by Nvidia

OPTi claims infringement by Nvidia

OPTi - a major IP holding company - claims that Nvidia has broken the terms of a licensing agreement.

Notorious intellectual property holding company OPTi has launched arbitration against Nvidia, claiming that the company owes it a substantial amount of royalty payments for a patent on pre-snoop memory technology.

As reported over on Electronista, the patent holder, OPTi - which doesn't actually have a business, per se, but instead makes all of its revenue by enforcing the intellectual property rights granted to it by its not-inconsiderable patent portfolio - claims that Nvidia is in breach of an agreement made between the two companies back in 2006.

This particular technology, which has been built into Nvidia's graphics cards for quite some time, was originally licensed by OPTi on the agreement that it would receive quarterly payments worth $3.75 million (£2.3 million). OPTi claims that Nvidia has failed to pay the last five payments, and could end up owing as many as twelve additional payments should the arbitration go against it.

On the face of it, OPTi has a good chance of succeeding against the graphics card specialist: if Nvidia truly is in breach of a pre-agreed contract then it seems inevitable that it will have to fork out a not-inconsiderable amount of money to repair its relationship with OPTi.

Nor does it seem likely that Nvidia will escape payment by contesting the patent: the self-same patent on pre-snoop memory technology was used by OPTi against Apple, and resulted in the Cupertino-based giant being ordered to pay $21.7 million (£13.33 million) in damages for its infringement - although according to MacDailyNews Apple plans to appeal that ruling.

Do you believe that OPTi has a right to the money that was promised to it by Nvidia, or is it simply a patent troll that needs to be stopped - living off the work of others while contributing nothing to the tech market itself? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

17 Comments

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DarkLord7854 11th December 2009, 13:19 Quote
You can own patents, never use them, and still retain them..? Wtf..? Seriously..? Wow.

Seems utterly retarded IMO.. if you patent something, you should either make use of it AND license it, or lose it.

Meh.

Either way though, nVidia made a deal.. Soo hope they get their fingers stepped on
mi1ez 11th December 2009, 13:21 Quote
But I don't WANT only one choice of GPU Manufacturer...

And I don't think a company can exist purely to own patents...
mi1ez 11th December 2009, 13:22 Quote
That should potentially have read "should"
TWeaK 11th December 2009, 13:36 Quote
What's with this bias against only some IP companies? This site publishes all sorts of articles about ARM processors, yet not once have I seen a condemning statement about the company ARM. ARM don't actually make anything - their business model is based purely on R&D and the technologies they invent.

It's obviously not good if someone invents something and someone else patents it and doesn't let anyone else use it, but in my eyes if you invent something you're fully within your rights to only license it and take royalties and not produce products yourself. In this case, it seems open and shut. Nvidia agreed to the license for tech created by OPTi, and have now broken that agreement, so should pay the consequences.

The only thing I can't agree with is people or companies who patent technology and then won't license it. For example, Intel's x86 license or any number of technologies owned by oil companies.
erratum1 11th December 2009, 13:39 Quote
Of course their a patent troll living off the back of others, but their not doing anything wrong. They own the patents and nvidia, intel, ati etc all have their own patents.
proxess 11th December 2009, 13:53 Quote
Down with patent trolls. As stated above, just "thinking" up something shouldn't be enough to patent something. They should produce too, to keep the patent's rights.
Phil Rhodes 11th December 2009, 14:03 Quote
Quote:
As stated above, just "thinking" up something shouldn't be enough to patent something.

Well it should, but it should be possible to contest patents on the basis that the owner has no intention of developing them.

Bugger to prove, of course.
TWeaK 11th December 2009, 14:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxess
Down with patent trolls. As stated above, just "thinking" up something shouldn't be enough to patent something. They should produce too, to keep the patent's rights.

Usually just 'thinking up something' isn't enough to warrant the expense of applying for a patent. You have to test it both theoritically and with physical samples so that you know your theory works. As such, with all the work that goes into proper R&D usually done before a patent is taken out, it's only right that a portion of the profits from the technology should go back to the people who invented it.

You might not have the capacity, nor the desire, to go into the manufacturing market, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be entitled to the fruits of your efforts.
evanjdooner 11th December 2009, 14:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TWeaK
What's with this bias against only some IP companies? This site publishes all sorts of articles about ARM processors, yet not once have I seen a condemning statement about the company ARM. ARM don't actually make anything - their business model is based purely on R&D and the technologies they invent.

Patents exist as a means to stimulate invention. A company that invests in R&D and licences patents is fine. A company that buys up patents without any intent to further research, develop or market these ideas but just licence them is not in the spirit of the patent system, It is simply a tax on innovation.
Bob1234 11th December 2009, 15:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanjdooner
Quote:
Originally Posted by TWeaK
What's with this bias against only some IP companies? This site publishes all sorts of articles about ARM processors, yet not once have I seen a condemning statement about the company ARM. ARM don't actually make anything - their business model is based purely on R&D and the technologies they invent.

Patents exist as a means to stimulate invention. A company that invests in R&D and licences patents is fine. A company that buys up patents without any intent to further research, develop or market these ideas but just licence them is not in the spirit of the patent system, It is simply a tax on innovation.

Not to mention that ARM USED to develop and make things, but as their market shrank, they moved to licensing their IP out to others instead.

And totally agree, if a company just sits on patents and makes no effort to use them, they should lapse, be it a recently filed one or one filed a few years ago.
RichCreedy 11th December 2009, 19:47 Quote
I to hate patent trolls, who simply exist to make money from an idea they have no intention of making or continuing research to improve. If ARM are continuing research and development into items that they patent, they are not patent trolls.

x86 is licensed to other companies, so cant be used as an example, also intel do still manufacture x86 chips.(via and amd have x86 licences)

patents were more of a good intentions protection racket, which is now stifeling innovation, and should no longer exist, or at the very least, allow for patents to be overwritten if improvements are made to the original design.
paisa666 11th December 2009, 21:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
I to hate patent trolls, who simply exist to make money from an idea they have no intention of making or continuing research to improve. .


To patent something you need to do research and prove it works, who is saying that by patenting something and no making products out of it is equal to not continuing doin research?. When this is actually what OPTi is dedicated to.

right know they're doing research in many fields and the way they invest in their investigations iis getting paid by others to use their patents, is nothing out of normal and is their right todo so.

I dont see anything wrong about this, and if nVidia signed an agreement to use their patent and is failing to pay, then ofcourse they have to be demanded.
Kalcifer 12th December 2009, 11:30 Quote
If you have invented something, then fair enough, it's yours and you can do with it as you like, manufacture it, licence it, sit on it, whatever you like.

BUT... if you have bought that patent with the sole purpose of preventing that technology from reaching the market, I find that quite disgusting.

If you have bought that technology as a "middle man" with intention of reselling it, that’s more of a grey area, I don't like it much, but it could be that companies like this have the connections that accelerate the inventions adoption to the market place, years faster than an un-known inventor.

Remember this though, patents are expensive and difficult to get, it’s not fair to attach more strings to an already very high risk investment for NEW patents.
TheUn4seen 13th December 2009, 00:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Quote:
As stated above, just "thinking" up something shouldn't be enough to patent something.

Well it should, but it should be possible to contest patents on the basis that the owner has no intention of developing them.

Bugger to prove, of course.

Well, then Intel, AMD-ATI, nVidia and many others would lose many, many patents. Every huge company is a huge patent troll - they buy technologies that could threaten them, patent them and shove them into the cellar so nobody can use them. nVidia and Intel alone killed dozens of innovative and breakthrough technologies this way. They don't use most of those patents, just sit on them so nobody can use them. Remember that big companies don't care about innovation, they just need to be a small step ahead of competition, putting as little money into R&D as possible.
rickysio 13th December 2009, 12:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by paisa666
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
I to hate patent trolls, who simply exist to make money from an idea they have no intention of making or continuing research to improve. .


To patent something you need to do research and prove it works, who is saying that by patenting something and no making products out of it is equal to not continuing doin research?. When this is actually what OPTi is dedicated to.

right know they're doing research in many fields and the way they invest in their investigations iis getting paid by others to use their patents, is nothing out of normal and is their right todo so.

I dont see anything wrong about this, and if nVidia signed an agreement to use their patent and is failing to pay, then ofcourse they have to be demanded.

They used to do research. Now they're just trolling.
Kalcifer 13th December 2009, 13:10 Quote
I agree, all they do now is attempt to sue other companies for extortionate amounts of money, sometimes it’s the giants like Nvidia, Intel, Microsoft but often it’s the smaller companies which are left devastated after the giant multi million pound lawsuits that companies like this use are done with them.
Companies like this DO damage competitive growth and people livelihoods, and they should be stopped.
Each patent infringement lawsuit usually costs the defending company £1-3 million even if they do win, they usually end up paying several hundred thousand to avoid this. That is how these Trolls earn their money, through fear and intimidation of multimillion pound lawsuits, its easy to forget that its the smaller companies that people like OPTi hurt most.
staff2 14th December 2009, 04:11 Quote
"OPTi - which doesn't actually have a business, per se"

So any company that uses property as a way of generating revenue is not a business? If not for copyrights, there would be no Disney, no MGM, no Columbia pictures/records, etc. What about land owners, oil and gas leases? Without patents Western Union would have steamrolled Bell and AT&T, or more likely we would still be sending telegrams instead of emails. Think again.
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