Saturday, July 17, 2010

Intel, Nvidia, the FTC and Nehalem in Epic Patent Licensing Showdown: Brooke Crothers at CNET News "Nanotech - The Circuits Blog" Discusses the Graphics Chip Battle

This is a "big time" patent licensing technology showdown involving Intel, Nvidia, and the FTC with a settlement deadline of July 22, 2010 or else the FTC complaint against Intel Corporation for violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and Section 2 of the Sherman Act goes to administrative trial (bypassing here for now the Intel suit against Nvidia and its countersuit).

For the fascinating tech law story which ultimately affects every computer user, shapes the chip world of tomorrow and also tangents affected companies such as AMD, Apple, etc. see Brooke Crothers at:

Intel vs. Nvidia: The tech behind the legal case | Nanotech - The Circuits Blog - CNET News

where he writes, inter alia:
"[T]he Federal Trade Commission, in effect, inserted itself into the legal wrangling between Intel and Nvidia when it alleged in a complaint that Intel was engaged in anticompetitive practices in the graphics chip market....
One of the core contemporaneous issues in the legal squabbling is Intel's Nehalem design. (Nehalem is Intel's latest chip architecture and includes processors such as the Core i3, i5, and i7.) With the introduction of the Nehalem chip architecture, Intel has asserted, via court filings, that Nvidia, in effect, does not have the right to attach chipsets to Intel CPUs anymore--locking Nvidia out of a potentially large market. (Intel claims it has the legal right to do so because the technology has changed.) Before Nehalem-based chip designs emerged, Nvidia had supplied chipsets for Apple's MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, for example. Now, it is prevented from doing so...."
Read the whole article to get a quick fuller view of the legal issues.

See also Eric Bleeker at The Motley Fool in If Intel Settles, What Might NVIDIA Gain?

For analysis in depth, though you may not necessarily agree with the conclusions - as we do not, see Wright, Joshua D., An Antitrust Analysis of the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Against Intel (June 14, 2010). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 10-27. Available at SSRN:

In our contrary view to the above, the FTC has Intel by the proverbials and they have in our opinion no choice but to settle. We will know in a few days.

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