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Samsung gets the best of Nvidia in patent battle, but the war isn't over

As Nvidia has learned recently, the law doesn’t always work in your favor. After ruling earlier this month that Samsung hadn’t infringed on the graphics chip company’s intellectual property, the US International Trade Commission has determined that the opposite is true — Nvidia has, instead, ripped off Samsung.

A judge for the ITC discovered that Nvidia had infringed on the of Samsung’s patents in the Korean company’s counter-lawsuit, namely US6147385, US6173349, and US7804734. The first patent has to do with SRAM cells while, the second is about shared bus systems, and the third deals with data strobe buffers and memory systems.

“A judge at the US International Trade Commission this week issued his initial determination that we had infringed three of Samsung’s patents,” wrote executive vice president of Nvidia David Shannon. “We are disappointed by this initial decision. We will seek a review by the full ITC, which will take several months to issue its ruling.”

Related: Samsung wants to take its patent battle with Apple to the Supreme Court

Amidst the dispute, Nvidia’s lawyers testified that Samsung’s legal team chose three patents that hadn’t been utilized in years, Bloomberg reports. Of those selected, one of the patents actually expires in 2016, eliminating any trade embargo on products actively employing it.

To Judge David Shaw, Samsung’s lawyers asserted that the patents in question were essential to fitting “what used to fill an entire circuit board with dozens of discrete components onto a single chip the size of your thumbnail.”

What’s more, Samsung went after a handful of Nvidia’s clients in the same case, including Biostar, EliteGroup, and Jaton. A public edition of the case’s determination will be posted later, according to a statement made by the ITC.

Meanwhile, the Korean electronics company has a civil case against Nvidia taking place in Virginia. A trial for that case is scheduled to occur in January.

The ruling shouldn’t have any immediate impact on Nvidia, but if it stands, it could prove a problem for the company. Unlike Samsung, Nvidia is not so large it can entirely shrug off a serious patent suit. The green team has an uphill battle ahead of it, but it’s not over until it’s over.