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US Patent Office backs Nvidia with Rambus rejection

41 infringement claims swatted

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Nvidia said Tuesday the US Patent and Trademark Office has initially rejected 41 claims by Rambus that accuse the graphics chip maker of aping its memory controller tech without paying.

The 41 jilted claims relate to seven of the nine patents Rambus alleges have been infringed by Nvidia. The IP-only memory company filed a formal complaint with the US International Trade Commission in November 2008 requesting an investigation it hopes will lead to barring of certain Nvidia kit if royalties or settlement money isn't slipped its way.

"We are pleased that the USPTO decided to review the patentability of Rambus' patents and agreed with Nvidia's challenge to all 41 claims," the GPU company's chief attorney, David Shannon, said in a statement. "We will continue to vigorously defend this matter in the ITC."

Validity of the remaining two Rambus patents being challenged are still pending with the USPTO. Nvidia expects an initial decision for the pair within 60 days.

Nvidia spokesman Hector Marinez tells El Reg that although a USPTO decision is not binding to the ITC case, it sets a precedent that's typically helpful in swaying a decision.

As tradition with Rambus-related news, challenging a patent with the USPTO usually promises to be a long and drawn-out process. Rambus will next have a chance to respond to the initial rejection and so forth.

Rambus' claims against Nvidia finger the company's DDR (double data rate) memory controllers found in both Nvidia's chipset and graphics chips and include GDDR3 memory used in its latest line of GPUs..

The IP firm has been enjoying a winning streak lately in its smorgasbord of patent claims. Last month, the US Federal Trade Commission finally dropped its seven-year-running claim that Rambus violated antitrust laws by tricking the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council and its members to approve memory technologies for which it had quietly secured patents. Rambus also scored a $379m (£229m) proposed judgment against Korean memory maker Hynix for alleged infringement of aforementioned memory tech patents. ®

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