AMD has won a round in its legal battle against makers of TVs at the United States International Trade Commission (US ITC). The Commission found that Vizio and Sigma Designs have infringed one of AMD’s patents covering fundamental aspects of modern GPUs. The ITC ordered to cease imports of some of Vizio TVs to the U.S.

Back in early 2017, AMD filed a lawsuit with the US ITC against LG, MediaTek, Sigma Designs, and Vizio. The plaintiff accused the defendants of infringing three patents covering fundamental aspects of contemporary graphics processing, such unified shaders (‘133), parallel pipeline graphics system (‘506), as well as a graphics processing architecture employing unified shaders (‘454). Furthermore, the complaint referenced an in-progress patent application covering GPU architectures with unified shaders (‘967) and accused two of the said companies of infringing it as well. Meanwhile all the defendants license (or licensed) their GPU technologies from ARM and Imagination Technologies (though, as we reported back in early 2017, it looks like AMD only accuses SoCs based on ARM’s architecture of infringing its patents).

Eventually, LG settled with AMD out of court. Meanwhile, MediaTek, Sigma Designs, and Vizio are still parts of the US ITC investigation. This week the Commission found that certain Vizio-branded TVs based on Sigma's SoCs infringe claims 1-5 and 8 of AMD's ’506 patent that covers a parallel pipeline graphics system.

The ITC notice does not disclose which products infringe AMD's patent, nor does it list the TVs now barred from the U.S. Keeping in mind that Vizio used certain SoCs from Sigma Designs, which is about to be liquidated, it is unlikely that TVs in question are current, new models. Unfortunately, due to lack of details, it is unclear how important the win is for AMD and what are possible implications for the parties involved. Meanwhile, after issuing a cease and desist order, ITC terminated the investigation, but did not order defendants to pay any remedies.

The List of AMD's Patents Allegedly Infringed by Defendants
Patent Name Abstract Description Asserted Claims Filing Date Infringing
IC Products*
7,633,506 Parallel pipeline graphics system The parallel pipeline graphics system includes a back-end configured to receive primitives and combinations of primitives (i.e., geometry) and process the geometry to produce values to place in a frame buffer for rendering on screen. 1-9 November 26, 2003 MediaTek Helio P10

7,796,133 Unified shader A unified shader unit used in texture processing in graphics processing device. Unlike the conventional method of using one shader for texture coordinate shading and another for color shading, the present shader performs both operations. 1-13 and 40 December 8, 2003
8,760,454 Graphics processing architecture employing a unified shader A GPU that uses unified shaders 2 - 11 May 17, 2011 MediaTek Helio P10
Patent Application 14/614,967 1-8 June 27, 2016
*The list of infringing products is not limited to two ICs.

Related Reading:

Sources: ITC, Seeking Alpha, Bloomberg

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  • Cogman - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    The last two patents look a lot like prior art, considering the Xbox 360 had a unified graphics shader back in 2005.
  • seamonkey79 - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    Which used a GPU design by ATI, now owned by AMD.
  • Makaveli - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

  • Dragonstongue - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    Xbox 360 IS Radeon based, which is AMD ^.^
    Nvidia with their 8 series and ATi/AMD with HD2000 series introduced unified shaders, AMD went the extra mile and added tessellation engine to their offerings for many many years before Nv cried like a baby and MSFT caved to them to FORCE AMD to "redesign" it to give Nv the "upper hand" instead of doing the honorable thing and saying
    "quite your whining, you had PhysX for how many years, along with many other things that you keep locked away for your own benefit, they spent thousands if not tens of thousands of man hours and millions of dollars design this, so, figure it out, because we are going with AMD implementation"

    but nope, Nv gets "their way" even if a good chunk of the time they get to emulate things in software when everybody else has to do it in hardware..........currently AMD is the one that has the distinct advantage in DX11 and 12 because they kept most of the hardware to do things at full speed instead of taking a "loss" performance wise to emulate things.

    AMD for many many years has pretty much smoked Geforce silly when pushed to the limit and properly coded for....take mining or code cracking as an example, the radeons are massive brute force potential, the Geforce offerings have slowly but surely stripped a good chunk of what they were once able to do only because they get developers on board to "bend over" TWIMTBP (the way we screw you all equally tm)

    anyways lol....if AMD was the first one to "patent it" even if it was earlier than everyone else, and someone else decides to infringe on this IP which is a patent protected thing, it sucks to be the infringer and good for AMD IMO because for many many many years they have been held by the short and curlies while Intel, Nv and others run roughshod over them and developers and OS maker basically give the "go ahead, its ok" not to mention the multiple countries which are protected grounds for Intel or Nv to sell at steep bargain prices while AMD/ATi are marked up significantly (even when they are and were BETTER)

    hard to win a war when others control all the guns an ammo.
  • Klimax - Sunday, August 26, 2018 - link

    That's some red glasses rewrite of history. Aka: How it is everybody else faul(t)/conspiracy that AMD never reigned supreme.
  • seamonkey79 - Sunday, August 26, 2018 - link

    shh, you sound like Alex Jones
  • lmcd - Monday, August 27, 2018 - link

    Dude AMD literally admitted their tesselation design sucked from that era and was entirely experimental.
  • piroroadkill - Monday, August 27, 2018 - link

    ATI's tesellation efforts go way back before the HD 2000 series, they started with TruForm on the Radeon 8500.
  • stephenbrooks - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    Patent for a "Unified shader" :/ These can't expire soon enough, roll on 2023.
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    AMD's turned into a patent troll. Nice.

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