Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Commission Affirms NVIDIA Violated Rambus Patents

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the infringe-group dept.

HP 35

MojoKid writes "The International Trade Commission has announced its findings in the NVIDIA/Rambus patent infringement lawsuit, and it's not the sort of ruling Team Green would've preferred. The commission found NVIDIA to be in violation of three Rambus patents. The trade panel also granted an injunction Rambus had requested, which theoretically prevents NVIDIA and the various companies attached to the lawsuit (Asus, HP, Palit, and MSI among others) from selling products that contain the infringing IP. The commission's decision this week affirms a January ruling that saw NVIDIA in violation of three Rambus patents while dismissing two additional claims of infringement Rambus made."

cancel ×

35 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Boned. (2, Insightful)

RMingin (985478) | more than 4 years ago | (#33062646)

And RMBS takes down yet another member of JEDEC's bag of targets!

1. Submit tech to standards body.
2. Get tech widely used.
3. Patent tech.
4. SUE!
5. PROFIT!

Re:Boned. (5, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 4 years ago | (#33062734)

You've got your order a little wrong.

1. Apply for patent.
2. Join standards body, get tech widely used.
3. Leave standards body.
4. Continue patent of Step 1, ammending claims to read directly against standard.
5. SUE!
6. PROFIT!

Re:Boned. (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#33071210)

You're missing a step: 1. Apply for patent. 1.5 Fail to disclose patent applications in violation of standards body bylaws. 2. Join standards body, get tech widely used. 3. Leave standards body. 4. Continue patent of Step 1, ammending claims to read directly against standard. 5. SUE! 6. PROFIT! The real crime here is that violation of existing pertinent agreements apparently have no weight in the USPTO... clearly patents are divorced from reality a long ways.

Re:Boned. (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 4 years ago | (#33073058)

Yeah, there's that little detail. There's also the fact that the original patent application was allowed to languish for several years and later abandoned. But it languished long enough for them to come in after JEDEC and ammend the claims. Nor did the original patent claims read on the JEDEC standard.

I had to simplify a little.

Hate to say it but (2, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 4 years ago | (#33062650)

If you're going to spend $10 billion on a process, you'd better make sure that the product it makes isn't infringing any patents. This isn't a helpless small developer; nvidia is the biggest of the big.

Re:Hate to say it but (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33062828)

It takes a lot more than 10 billion to read through all the patents at the patent office.

Re:Hate to say it but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33062858)

It's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

Re:Hate to say it but (3, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33062918)

In practice it's impossible to do anything non-trivial without infringing a number of patents.

There is no test you can do to give a certain answer, the best you can do is licence the patents you're sure you'd be infringing.
In the cases of patents owned by other big companies a big company which owns a lot of patents can just make a deal that they not sue each other.

In the case of patent trolls, companies with no real assets other than their patent portfolio and no income stream other than licensing and the loot from lawsuits this is of course impossible since they produce nothing they cannot be threatened with having the other companies patents used against them.

I really have to ask something of any engineers reading this who work in R&D- how many of you spend your dev time reading patents to find useful tech you could use in what you're developing?

Alternatively how many of you avoid doing so at all cost for fear getting 3 times the penalties if someone sues you for something you didn't think your tech infringed but is later found to infringe?

Currently there's well over 6 million active patents worldwide.
Even cutting out all the ones in fields so far from your own they probably have nothing to do with what you're building (unsafe) that still leaves you with more patents to examine to see if you're infringing than even dozens of lawyers could compare to every part of what you're building in a year.(if you could delay time to market that long)
Even then you wouldn't be safe since one of the lawyers might have misunderstood something or missed something.
(lets not even get into changes late in the projects design)

You'd be left with a decent pile of "certainly infringes" and such a vast pile of "maybe infringes" that you'd be bankrupted by the licensing fees and delayed for years trying to contact every one.
And even then you wouldn't be safe since a court might simply disagree with even a very very good lawyer.

So big companies make an effort, pay off the ones which they are certain infringe and which are certain to be spotted and hope.

Re:Hate to say it but (4, Insightful)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064066)

Patents protect big companies, not the people who discover new things. And I believe that companies whose only assets are IP purchased from other parties are a degeneration. The way it is right now, only large companies can innovate; small companies often do not even have the resources to check what they are infringing, if any. So the cost of innovation becomes incredibly expensive for the small guy, and any legal disagreement gets resolved in favor of the ones with deepest pockets. The system as it is is flawed, and deeply skewed towards the party who has more money.

Patents work exactly as designed (2, Insightful)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067576)

So the cost of innovation becomes incredibly expensive for the small guy, and any legal disagreement gets resolved in favor of the ones with deepest pockets. The system as it is is flawed, and deeply skewed towards the party who has more money.

What, you believed just because the told you patents were to promote progress in the sciences, that that is their real reason?

I've got new for you: the patent system is working precisely as designed.

Namely:
1. Innovation is successfully limited to (mostly) large enterprises
2. Smaller innovators can be sued or shut down on demand, or allowed to flourish if the appropriate corporate or political pockets are lined
3. Technological advancement is prevented from going exponential. Indeed, it is slowed to a relative, governable crawl, ensuring those in power stay there in perpetuity.

So far, little hiccups like the emergence of the Internet aside, the patent system is delivering precisely the results its designers and administrators intend. The only losers are the rest of humanity, and we are not, quite frankly, of any concern to the ruling class.

Re:Hate to say it but (4, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064160)

I really have to ask something of any engineers reading this who work in R&D- how many of you spend your dev time reading patents to find useful tech you could use in what you're developing?

Alternatively how many of you avoid doing so at all cost for fear getting 3 times the penalties if someone sues you for something you didn't think your tech infringed but is later found to infringe?

Engineer working in R&D here; you nailed it with Option B there (and really the whole post).

I was explicitly instructed by our legal department to never conduct patent searches. The mere act of doing so, even if I never read the relevant patent, could suggest knowing violation and thus treble damages.

Instead, the lawyer said that when our product unintentionally but inevitably infringes on another company's patent, we sit down across from them with our big pile of patents which is hopefully bigger than theirs and come to an agreement. The main reason we try to acquire such a big pile of patents is exactly for these defensive purposes.

One thing I'm not sure about is what happens during our patenting process. We write up descriptions of ideas we came up with in the course of designing the product that we think are patentable, and send them off to legal, and they'll send them back to us for editing and such. What they do on their end is what I'm not sure of. I would think they don't do searches for prior art for the same reason we don't, but patents applications are supposed to list relevant prior art and I can't imagine the Patent Office doesn't get suspicious when every single application lists zero prior art. Well, okay, I can imagine that.

Re:Hate to say it but (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064206)

I imagine the legal department does do a certain amount of reviewing of current patents but have it set up so that they can prove that only lawyers -nobody who has any part in designing anything- ever looks at a patent.

Re:Hate to say it but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064314)

I was explicitly instructed by our legal department to never conduct patent searches. The mere act of doing so, even if I never read the relevant patent, could suggest knowing violation and thus treble damages.

This is common practice; was just talking to a friend of mine who's a software engineer / programmar-type the other day, and he told me the same thing.

The patent system's a cruel joke.

Re:Hate to say it but (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33066572)

Alternatively how many of you avoid doing so at all cost for fear getting 3 times the penalties if someone sues you for something you didn't think your tech infringed but is later found to infringe?

Software patents aren't valid here, so the infringement issue doesn't matter, but I never search for them because they are incredibly difficult to read. If I want to see if anyone has a solution to my problem, I look in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, or do a web search. I've never come across a situation where reading a patent would have made my life easier, which seems to defeat the point of patents existing.

Re:Hate to say it but (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067486)

If they were smart they would all settle out of court, avoid the lawyer fees, and also make the 10billion dollar project just a 10.5 billion dollar project....would be cheaper and everyone could get on with their lives.

This is bad (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 4 years ago | (#33062670)

This is very bad, i really really love NVIDIA video cards, and their GPUs, and i was hoping of buying one of there super-computers some time soon...... one more giant down.

Shhh... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33063100)

If you listen carefully, you can the lost souls of the Voodoo 5 6000 laughing.

I don't get it (4, Insightful)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 4 years ago | (#33062938)

How can the US Patent office find that the Rambus patents are groundless http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1588351/nvidia-us-import-ban [theinquirer.net] , and yet the ITC finds that some how NVIDIA violated 3 patents. This is the circus that never ends.

Re:I don't get it (2, Interesting)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063174)

Does the ITC have any legal weight in the US?

Re:I don't get it (1)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064104)

Considering that the ITC is a US federal agency with its members nominated by the President/confirmed by the Senate and not some international organization like the name implies to anyone who has never heard of it...yep.

Re:I don't get it (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064292)

Then why are they enforcing a patent the USPTO disqualified?!

Re:I don't get it (2, Interesting)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064668)

Bureaucratic turf war. Congress could resolve it, but they've all sold out to the lawyers lobby.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064186)

Ask Qualcomm, Broadcomm, and Nokia that.

The answer is yes it has quite a bit of legal weight.

HP/Alpha 21364 used Rambus technology too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33066136)

I remember that Compaq was in hold of the 21264 that was using SDRAM DIMMS, and when HP aquired the Alpha patents they were in the research and implementationg of the 21364 processors to use Rambus RIMM instead of DDR because their use of it in Alpha was higher performance in their implementation.

Anyone have anymore details, as I don't use a GS or ES class of Alpha servers that still cost over $5k on eBay despite being 3 years out of production?

Goddamnit I hate seeing this superior technology get hellenized into processors made from Intel and AMD technology. Truly sad.

Re:HP/Alpha 21364 used Rambus technology too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33072468)

The ES47 used RIMMS

Its broken (5, Interesting)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063512)

We need to face facts; the patent system, like almost all other legal systems here, is ridiculously broken. The patent system was supposed to grow creativity but instead has become a tool for quick profits. Its ridiculous and needs to go.

Re:Its broken (2, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063872)

If your looking up its evil.
Looking down its a revenue stream, barrier to entry and protects cartels.
Thats win win win with the full protection of powerful governments.
Prices are stable, projections hold and noting disruptive escapes the lab, garage ect without the option to buy out, license or delay.

Patents aren't broken, only the officers of PTO. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33066076)

Patents have been around since the beginning of time and actually apply to existant property types and never was an exclusively commercial matter as the US Patent & Trade Officer makes it out to be.

The are Land Patents too, but the US Burrows Of Land Management has also done a fine job (like PTO) to steal land from farmers and related endemic people that have an Interest in the soil and a right to the estate above the soil and the mineral below the soil traversing to the core of the planet-nucleus.

As you can see by the politics and corporatism the State uses in it's favor, more money is made in delaying matters as to reap the high rewards. This is no different than how the City interprets the laws similarly as the State and the Government, to only uphold the rights that earn them the highest fees in their coercively supplementing your already-existing right in assuming that you are reprobate or diminished in capacity.

Hang them all, then drive away with the rope still attached to the bumper.

But is it worse than the alternative (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#33066202)

Well, there is a downside too, but I would say it _did_ provide an advantage compared to ye olde days when (A) there wasn't much incentive to put too much money into new research, and (B) if you did, it was only if you could keep it secret.

Probably the best case that could be made is the Greek Fire, which gave the Byzantine armies and navies a major advantage. But they kept it so secret that a few centuries later they themselves didn't know how to make it any more. Probably a family business and once it went out of business, nobody knew how to make more. Suddenly a whole fleet of boats with flamethrowers was out of ammo. Yes, there is the recipe described by Anna Komnene, but it doesn't actually work. Even the royal family paying for that flamethrower fuel got a bogus recipe as what they're paying for.

I'd say it couldn't have hurt to let them patent it, ya know?

Another good case is Leonardo Da Vinci's tank which wouldn't actually work as designed. The schematic contains a simple flaw which Leonardo would probably know not to do that way, but anyone trying to steal his work would end up with a lot of work invested and monkey sunk into something that flat out can't move.

It's not the only one, btw. He hid flaws which would make the design non-functional even in such trivial stuff as his design of a trebuchet, which you have to wonder why. I mean, people had been building trebuchets for half a millennium at that point, so surely there'd be no point in trying to hide that knowledge. Oh, wait, except there totally was worth it. Engineers kept that kind of thing secret, so you'd have to pay them instead of just make your own copies, to the extent that for example Gengis Khan's armies made a point to capture the engineers from each city they took, and make them build siege engines for them.

Sometimes active disinformation went into protecting a trade secret too. E.g., why we got the noun "catgut". Violin strings were actually made of sheep gut, but the very few families who knew how, actively popularized a version which would be the wrong material, impractical, too expensive, and which most other people couldn't bring themselves to even try anyway.

Is a quick profit worse than that? I'm not that convinced.

You have to wonder though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33066474)

Windows is the most popular OS out there today, in several incarnations: Server, XP, Vista and 7.

Yet, have we ever seen the sourcecode. It is secret, isn't it?

Same here with every other proprietary software and hardware. We know the schematics, or we think we can figure it out at least. But the details is hidden in machine code and no sourcecode is ever released.

If Microsoft went out of business for some reason, we wouldn't know how to patch or upgrade Windows. It would be abandonded, just like all other abandonded software out there today. Some day, it will happen.

But they can patent the idea, which is really all a software patent is, since the sourcecode is not included, to stop other people implementing similar system.

That IS evil.

Sort of (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067428)

Windows is the most popular OS out there today, in several incarnations: Server, XP, Vista and 7.

Yet, have we ever seen the sourcecode. It is secret, isn't it?

Same here with every other proprietary software and hardware. We know the schematics, or we think we can figure it out at least. But the details is hidden in machine code and no sourcecode is ever released.

If Microsoft went out of business for some reason, we wouldn't know how to patch or upgrade Windows. It would be abandonded, just like all other abandonded software out there today. Some day, it will happen.

But they can patent the idea, which is really all a software patent is, since the sourcecode is not included, to stop other people implementing similar system.

That IS evil.

Well, it's not like patents are mandatory or anything, so, yes, there will still be things which are still just secret instead.

Also, that stereotype of software patents is simply not true. True, _some_ patents are just vague ideas, or even just something as silly as business uniforms. (And, really, why the _fuck_ is a pizzeria's uniform a patent and not, say, a trademark? what is the scientific or technology advance there?) But most of them actually include at least a working algorithm and, if applicable, the maths behind it. Even without source code to copy, someone even half-way competent should be able to implement it.

Generally there is only so much that you can patent in advance as some vague idea, and there's only so big a time window to do so. If you went to the patent office with some idea like "compressing images somehow", if it's already in widespread use, you get laughed out the door, and if it's more than 20-30 years ahead of its time, you won't make anything out of it. It's not as practical as you'd think. Most patents actually do have to describe an actual way of solving the problem, in a different way than anyone patented before.

Basically, don't fall for the Slashdot meme that all the patents are some trivial blanket idea and without any clue (or even useless) to the actual implementation. Yes, the average comment or even summary here is along the lines of someone reading about a patent on some new clockwork mechanism and going "OMG, they're trying to patent the cog". Because, you know, it's what gives lots of karma fast, and it doesn't even require actually knowing what he's talking about. Reality tends to not be quite that bleak.

Boo Rambus! Yay Freedom! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33065480)

No more private commissions dictating what we can and can't do! They're not even a real governing body! Ron Paul told me so!

INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE! Down with patents! Freedom for all!

Ironic? Perhaps Karma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33067586)

Didn't this happen to 3dfx a few years back?

Possible irony here? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#33069330)

I don't know which nVidia parts are affected, but it's possible that RAMBUS might have shot itself in the foot if they covered all GPUs.

After all, RAMBUS' biggest wins are in the console market, and the PS3 has the distinction of having both RAMBUS memory in it (256MB system RAM - XDR-RAM), and nVidia GPU ("RSX"). Xbox360 and Wii use ATi parts, and don't use RAMBUS memory.

So if the PS3 also ends up blocked because of the ITC, it would affect licensing revenues for RAMBUS themselves, no? Heck, it may cause Sony to consider withdrawing their support as well...

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>