NVIDIA Files Lawsuit Against 3dfx Over Five Patents

August 28th, 2000 by Crusader

sCary broke the word that NVIDIA has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against 3dfx with the aim of preventing shipments of the Voodoo 3-5 product lines:

SAN JOSE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aug. 28, 2000–NVIDIA(TM) Corporation , the leader in advanced graphics processing technology, announced today that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against 3dfx Interactive(R) Inc. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

NVIDIA’s lawsuit involves five NVIDIA patents and seeks an injunction restraining 3dfx from manufacturing, selling or importing infringing graphics chip and card products including VooDoo3, Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 and VSA-100 family of products, as well as monetary damages.

The lawsuit alleges that 3dfx’s graphics chip and card products which are used to accelerate 3D graphics on personal computers, infringe on the following NVIDIA U.S. Patents: No: 5,687,357; No. 5,721,947; No: 5,758,182; No: 6,023,738; and No: 6,092,124.

“We have always been on the forefront of innovation in 3D graphics technology and visual computing,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. “This innovation is achieved through the annual investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development. We cannot allow the fruits of this investment to be misappropriated.”

The patents in question are:

I’m not an electrical engineer, so I can’t really comment on the validity of these particular intellectual property claims, but it should be fairly obvious that this case will have serious repercussions for the 3D graphics industry whatever the outcome.

UPDATE 21:04:50: As Temporal pointed out in the comments, 3dfx sued NVIDIA 2 years ago over a multitexturing patent, so neither side is exactly innocent.

7 Responses to “NVIDIA Files Lawsuit Against 3dfx Over Five Patents”

  1. misaka Says:

    I may not know much about the actual content of the lawsuit, although I suspect it’s going to be something silly, but am I the only one wondering about how NVIDIA’s CEO has decided to use the term ‘always’ here? How exactly is he defining ‘always’? The last two years? Three, maybe? Interesting wording from the CEO here.

  2. Svartalf Says:

    I refuse to support a company that insists on being a corporate bully.

    I don’t think that NVidia has carefully thought about how bad the PR is going to be over this- or they think that they don’t have to worry about it.

  3. Temporal Says:

    This is not good… 3dfx did this to NVidia awhile back. 3dfx actually holds a patent on multitexturing (that is, applying more than one texture to a surface). They sued NVidia over this completely idiotic patent some time ago… somehow, NVidia got out of it.[br][br]Stupid corporations… I’m sick of trying to decide which corporation is the “good” one… I just want quality hardware and software. Politics in general… stupid… I just don’t care about them anymore.

  4. Crusader Says:

    Personally, the problem I have with this lawsuit was that it was released the day before 3dfx’s earnings are due to be released, which is a fairly dirty tactic IMO.
    However, corporations aren’t monoliths, and I know some great people at both companies (Jason Lundy and Joseph Kain for example)… please keep in mind that engineers/programmers have little to nothing to do with how upper management and their lawyer attack dogs carry out policy.
    I’d prefer to see a healthy NVIDIA *and* 3dfx, to prevent one entity monopolizing the marketplace (which would allow technology to stagnate and prices to rise)… unfortunately, the ideal outcome for a precarious situation, in this industry or in general, rarely materializes :/

  5. StatiC Says:

    But what nvidia is doing is dirty. They should have brought this up quite awhile ago. They have the upper hand at speed, They really didnt need to do this. That is what sucks about it… kinda reminds me of microsoft. We are winning, so lets try to squash the competiton completely.[br][br]I was planning on getting an nvidia geforce2 ultra when they come out along with the voodoo5 6000, but this might make me rethink the geforce.[br][br]I hope both companies decide to play fair regardless of who is at fault. Afterall… There is room for a few major graphics companies.

  6. ard Says:

    Glimpsing through the links, they all seem to refer to some
    DMA action.
    Anyone remember the 1802 CPU? Or the intel advanced DMA
    controller? Or the i860 as a co-pro for the i386?
    These patents are jokes, patenting technology that existed even before 1980’s.
    (For those that don’t remember: 1802 already had an auto-
    increment dma register. The intel advanced dma-controllers
    and i860 as a co-pro do understand the phys< ->virtual
    Patents are jokes anyway.

    BTW: if they are somehow converting virtual< ->physical, so
    obviously doing some kind a memory management, then why is
    it the NVidia card locks-up my computer that hard?
    And why doesn’t my voodoo3 lock-up my computer?

  7. Skysurfer Says:

    I know what Nvidia is doing is wrong but what about what 3dfx did to Nvidia two years ago when Nvidia wasnt doing quite as good? As I remember seeing someone else say “Payback is a b!tch”

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