AMD filed a patent infringement complaint against LG Electronics, MediaTek, VIZIO, and Sigma Designs with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). The complaint was filed on January 24 and was recently obtained by the ITC Law Blog. AMD is claiming that the aforementioned companies infringed three of its patents with certain commercial products and is urging the ITC to investigate its claims. Two of the allegedly infringed patents were previously owned by ATI Technologies several years before the company was acquired by AMD, and all three are related to graphics processing technologies.
The fact that AMD is suing consumer electronics and chipset manufacturers instead of developers from whom companies license technologies likely means that the Sunnyvale-based company believes it has a better chance of winning a legal battle over existing, physical products that allegedly infringe on its patents instead of suing over concepts. This is why AMD's complaint doesn't make a single mention of a developer like ARM who licenses its GPU patents. While the complaint will likely end up in court, accurately predicting its outcome is a difficult task due to an almost complete lack of valid legal precedents. NVIDIA's lawsuit against Samsung and Qualcomm over patent infringement is remarkably similar to this new dispute but that case ended with a countersuit and an out-of-court settlement, meaning it can hardly be used as a precedent. It's possible that AMD will try to adopt a similar legal tactic to that taken by NVIDIA as the Santa Clara-based tech giant initially wanted to not only win damages for alleged infringements of its GPU patents but also set a precedent over who is responsible for such infringements.
AMD is claiming that the MediaTek-made Helio P10 system-on-chip and the SX7 (STV7701) chipset developed by Sigma Designs are both infringing on its GPU patents. LG and VIZIO were also accused of patent infringement due to the fact that some of their products are using the aforementioned chips. While AMD's complaint mentions a few products utilizing its patented technology without a license like the LG X Power, the filing clearly states that all of the named products are just examples, meaning that a potential trial could be far more comprehensive. Finally, AMD is claiming that these alleged infringements not only hurt its operations but also negatively affect its partners like Samsung who have legitimately licensed their technologies. As is usually the case with patent disputes, this one will likely evolve into a year-long legal battle.