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Judge dismisses ATI Real 3D ‘nuisance suit’ claim

Real 3D's patent infringement claims judged "valid"

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3D graphics specialist Real 3D has won the first round in its patent infringement case against graphics giant ATI. US District Court Judge Sue Robinson this week threw out a countersuit filed by ATI claiming that its Rage product line doesn't infringe Real 3D patents and that those patents are invalid anyway. ATI's suit essentially alleged that Real 3D's legal action was simply about forcing it to cough up money to avoid the cost of a trial. Real 3D's case against ATI centres on allegations that not only do the latter's graphics products infringe two Real 3D patents, but that ATI poached "key Real 3D engineering staff" in order to gain access to its trade secrets and thus compete with it unfairly. Of the patents, one is highly specialised, but the other defines what any graphics chipset will do, so technically affects not only ATI but everyone else in the business, including S3, 3dfx, Matrox, 3DLabs and so on. That said, these other companies may well have licensing agreements with Real 3D -- or simply gave in to Real 3D's demands. Real 3D is part-owned by Intel -- it designed the i740 graphics chipset on Chipzilla's behalf -- and SGI. SGI, of course, is now great friends with nVidia -- having settled a patent row of their own -- and who is one of nVidia's main rivals? Yes, that's right, it's ATI. Not that there's a connection between these events, of course. ®

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