The U.S. International Trade Commission on Monday ruled that NVIDIA and several of its OEM and system builder partners infringed on three Rambus' patents in a case that could impact the capabilities of PCs sold by branded and custom system channels.
NVIDIA, however, brushed aside any concerns by saying that a European Commission license will prevent any impact to its business and its partners.
The United States International Trade Commission issued a final ruling on Monday that NVIDIA and its partners violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing products containing semiconductor chips which infringe on three of Rambus' patents.
A Section 337 violation makes it illegal to import products into the U.S. or sell them after importing them if they were produced using unfair methods of competition or other unfair acts, as defined by Findlaw.
The ruling directly impacts NVIDIA, which builds graphics processors, application processors, media and communications processors, and chip sets that incorporate memory controllers Rambus said infringes on its patents.
It further impacts branded system vendors which use the NVIDIA semiconductors, including Hewlett-Packard and ASUS Computer International. Also impacted are a wide range of U.S., Taiwan, and Hong Kong suppliers of motherboards and other components, including BFG Technologies, Biostar Microtech (USA), Biostar Microtech International, Diablotek, EVGA, G.B.T., Gigabyte Technology, MSI Computer, Micro-star International, Palit Multimedia, Palit Microsystems, Pine Technology Holdings, and Sparkle Computer.
The case started in 2008 after Rambus filed a complaint with the U.S. ITC that alleged that products imported into the U.S. containing semiconductor chips with synchronous dynamic random access memory controllers infringed on nine of its patents.
The ITC in July of 2009 terminated four of those patents and certain claims of a fifth patent. Of the five patents still determined by the ITC to be valid, NVIDIA and its partners in January were initially shown to infringe on three of them, but that no violations were found with the other two.
In its final ruling, the ITC has issued a limited exclusion and cease-and-desist order against NVIDIA, HP, ASUS, Palit Multimedia, Palit Microsystems, MSI Computer, Micro-Star International, EVGA, Diablotek, Biostar Microtech, and BFG Technologies.
Next: What The Ruling Means, And NVIDIA's Response