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3dfx on course to win Nvidia patent clash

Or so recent court rulings have led it to believe

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3D graphics chip company 3dfx has described court rulings in its long-running patent infringement case against arch-rival Nvidia as "favourable", and is now sufficiently confident of success it intends to file for a summary judgement.

The so-called "favourable rulings" were made on 29 September in response to an action brought by 3dfx against Nvidia way back in 1998, and then augmented in March and May 1999. The plaintiff alleged that Nvidia had ripped off its patents on multi-texturing and level-of-detail mipmap dithering.

The rulings don't convey any legitimacy - or otherwise - on 3dfx's case. They are simply a matter of legal jiggery-pokery conducted in order to define the scope of the case - in other words, what does and does not amount to a violation of 3dfx's patents.

Of course, 3dfx didn't say in what way the ruling was favourable, beyond the claim that it's "a very positive sign that we are winning the battle to protect our valuable intellectual property", according to 3dfx's president and CEO Alex Leupp.

Since the company is asking for a judgement, it must be pretty confident it can win the case, in the light of what was said on 29 September.

If that proves the case, 3dfx will still have to face Nvidia's own patent infringement counter-claims, filed last summer. 3dfx denies the charges, and at the time alleged they were made simply as a bargaining tactic on Nvidia's part. ®

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