Cast your mind back a few weeks and you may remember that NVIDIA became a little unstuck over a patent dispute with Rambus. After many, many months and what we assume are embarrassingly-large legal fees, the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled against the GeForce manufacturer, potentially halting imports of any products infringing the intellectual property.
However, NVIDIA has today announced that the two companies have struck a licensing agreement, meaning that the company's GPUs can continue to be made and sold.
Of course, this isn't too surprising. Even though company representatives publicly stated that they planned to appeal the decision, a ruling confirmed by the ITC is quite damning. Furthermore, the Commission could have upheld its ban on imports even while an appeal was ongoing, which wouldn't do any favours for NVIDIA's profitability. Reaching some sort of deal with Rambus, even in the interim, was the only feasible way to proceed.
Under the terms of the deal, NVIDIA will pay a 2 per cent royalty rate for all non-SDR memory controllers. This includes controllers used with the DDR3, GDDR3 and GDDR5 memory that is found on most of the company's video cards. There's also a 1 per cent royalty rate on all SDR controllers.
A few per cent may not seem like a huge amount, but NVIDIA is playing catchup in a very competitive video-card market. We have to assume that profit margins are already squeezed and, given the company's announcement yesterday of a $141m loss this quarter, we have to assume that every per cent of its profits count.