NVIDIA Purchases Portfolio Of 500 Wireless Patents
May 15, 2012

NVIDIA Purchases Portfolio Of 500 Wireless Patents

Santa Clara California-based GPU maker Nvidia has teamed up with patent licensing firm Intellectual Ventures to purchase 500 patents covering wireless technology, including LTE, LTE-Advanced and 3G/4G, from IPWireless.

According to PC Mag's Chloe Albanesius, terms of the deal were not released, but ownership of the patents will be split between Nvidia and Intellectual Ventures; Nvidia will license the patents it did not acquire. IPWireless, meanwhile, will retain perpetual, royalty-free access to these patents.

These patents will advance Nvidia as it works on its next venture, the LTE Tegra chip.

David Shannon, executive vice president and general counsel at Nvidia, said in a statement, “This acquisition complements our ownership of extensive fundamental patents in graphics, visual and mobile computing. These patents, acquired in collaboration with Intellectual Ventures, will help support our rapidly expanding efforts in the mobile business.”

Quad-core processors in smartphones are the hot processor this year, reports Michelle Maisto for E-Week, and at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain, in February, the California-based Nvidia showed itself to be a trendsetter, contributing its 1.5GHz Tegra 3 chip to the LG Optimus 4X HD and HTC One X smartphones.

Loria Yeadon, executive vice president of the Invention Investment Fund (IIF) at Intellectual Ventures explained the deal by saying, “This investment provides efficient access to important inventions and standards-essential patents and reinforces our leadership role in building an active market for invention.”

Intellectual Ventures has been aggressive in seeking damages from those it believes to be violating its patent holdings. In October, it sued Motorola Mobility over wireless patents, and in February, it sued AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile on similar grounds.

During Nvidia´s first-quarter earnings call, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said that the company plans to bring “LTE and Tegra devices” to the United States during the second half of the year.

Nvidia´s acquisition of these patents should also help it compete against Qualcomm, which carries one of the largest patent portfolios in the mobile industry. The pair´s rivalry is evident in the new HTC One smartphone: While the AT&T One X runs Nvidia´s Tegra 3, the T-Mobile-offered One S runs Qualcomm´s Snapdragon SR chip.

During a recent earnings report, Nvidia reported a fairly substantial sequential decline in profits for its first fiscal quarter of the year, but offered a bright outlook as the company continues to roll out its highly regarded new GPU architecture code named Kepler across more product lines throughout 2012.

Nvidia attributed part of that decline in profits to higher operating expenses and lower gross margins, while pointing to positive signs that its mainstream PC and mobile product lines would drive good growth going forward.