People shopping for cheap TVs will soon have fewer options. The U.S. International Trade Commission has reportedly sided with AMD in a patent claim against Vizio, a television maker known for its relatively low pricing and barred the company from selling a number of its products in the U.S. That's only a small loss for thrifty Americans but an important victory for AMD.
The ITC's decision comes roughly a year-and-a-half since AMD filed a patent infringement complaint against Vizio, Sigma Designs, MediaTek, and LG claiming the companies infringed on three of its patents. Details about the ITC's decision are scarce; the commission doesn't appear to have published information about the case, and the Bloomberg report cited by Seeking Alpha doesn't seem to be available to the public.
Right now we know that AMD believed the companies listed in its complaint used chips that violated its patents. Instead of going after Imagination Technologies or Arm directly, AMD thought it easier to win a case against the companies whose products relied on the chips. LG settled with AMD, Vizio and Sigma Designs were found by the ITC to have violated one patent, and MediaTek's involvement with the case is currently unknown.
Three patents were at the center of AMD's complaint. Two resulted from its acquisition of ATI Technologies in 2006; the other was AMD's from the start. The patents broadly covered a parallel pipeline graphics system and unified shader technologies as well as the architecture required to use them. AMD wanted the technologies for its graphics cards, but they could also be used to power displays for other types of products, too.
Products like, you know, television sets. According to Seeking Alpha, the ITC decided that Vizio and Sigma Designs violated one of AMD's patents but didn't violate another. It's not clear if the third patent wasn't even considered or why it wasn't included with this decision. Still, despite the lack of details, the order shows that graphics card companies like AMD and Nvidia don't have to sit idly by when their tech is used in other products.