ZiiLabs Hits Apple, Samsung with Graphics Chip Patent Lawsuit

Both Apple and Samsung have been targeted in a patent infringement lawsuit by ZiiLabs, formerly known as 3DLabs. The lawsuit named Apple because of its A-series processors used in the iPhone and iPad, and Samsung for the graphics tech it uses in the processors it makes for Apple, as well as its own chips.

ZiiLabs says Apple and Samsung are infringing on its patentsZiiLabs says Apple and Samsung are infringing on its patents

ZiiLabs listed ten of the 100 graphics, processor and 3D-related patents it owns in the lawsuit, according to Patently Apple. The lawsuit states, in part,

Samsung has directly infringed and continues to directly infringe one or more of the claims of the '637 Patent by its manufacture and sale of the Apple A4, A5, A6, A6X, and A7 SoCs with graphics processing systems, which on information and belief are incorporated into the Phone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, Apple TV 3rd Generation, iPod Nano 7th Generation, iPad Air, iPad Mini 2nd Generation, iPad Mini 1st Generation, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5th Generation, iPod Touch 4th Generation, and all other similar devices.

The lawsuit goes on with a long list devices in Samsung's Galaxy product line that allegedly infringe on the patents, too. If ZiiLabs were to win an injunction blocking the sale of all the devices it named in the lawsuit, both Apple and Samsung would have very few mobile products on store shelves.

Apple was targeted because of the graphics tech built into its custom iPhone and iPad processors. Samsung was named because it makes those processors for Apple, and uses the same graphics technology in many of its own mobile devices.

Mobile products weren't singled out in the ZiiLabs lawsuit. The company also mentioned Apple's iMac, MacBook and Mac Pro lines with Intel Core processors, as well as Samsung's Chrombook, Chromebook 3G, and ATIV Book.

The patents ZiiLabs listed in its lawsuit include:

  • 5,831,637 - Video Stream Data Mixing for 3D Graphics Systems
  • 5,835,096 - Rendering System Using 3D Texture-Processing Hardware for Accelerated 2D Rendering
  • 6,111,584 - Rendering System with Mini-Patch Retrieval from Local Texture Storage
  • 6,650,333 - Multi-Pool Texture Memory Management
  • 6,683,615 - Doubly-Virtualized Texture Memory
  • 6,977,649 - 3D Graphics Rendering with Selective Read Suspend
  • 7,050,061 - Autonomous Address Translation in Graphic Subsystem
  • 7,187,383 - Yield Enhancement of Complex Chips
  • 7,710,425 - Graphic Memory Management with Invisible Hardware-Managed Page Faulting
  • 8,144,156 - Sequencer with Async SIMD Array

The company said it notified Samsung in August 2013 of the patent infringement, and that discussions have been ongoing since then. ZiiLabs said it started talks with Apple in 2006 and 2007 when it was still 3DLabs to discuss media processors and the company's graphics technology plans, and as such had knowledge of the patents it is infringing on.

ZiiLabs filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas. The court is known for favoring patent holders and draws in patent trolls like moths to a flame. ZiiLabs is based in Bermuda, but Samsung does have a chip manufacturing facility in Texas.

A judge hasn't been assigned to the case yet, and a trial date isn't on the court docket. Apple and Samsung haven't commented on the filing.