On Friday, March 7th, San Jose, CA-based semiconductor designer Broadcom Ltd (NASDAQ:AVGO) filed a series of six lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (C.D. Cal.) alleging the infringement of a series of patents covering semiconductor technologies. The patents target firms making and selling consumer audiovisual products or other articles which utilize system on a chip (SoC) semiconductors and similar processing equipment.
The suits target a series of four Asian tech firms and two other firms that have their headquarters in California. The most recognizable companies targeted in the patent infringement suits are South Korean consumer electronics firm LG Electronics (KRX:066570) and Irvine, CA-based consumer tech company Vizio, Inc. Other companies targeted by Broadcom’s recent legal filings include Taiwanese chipset developer MediaTek Inc. (TPE:2454), Japanese electronic apparatus firm Funai Electric Co. (TYO:6839), Taiwanese chipmaker MStar Semiconductor Inc. (TPE:3697) and Milpitas, CA-based semiconductor developer Sigma Designs Inc. (NASDAQ:SIGM).
Although most of the Broadcom suits assert multiple patents, there is only one patent asserted in each case: U.S. Patent No. 7310104, titled Graphics Display System with Anti-Flutter Filtering and Vertical Scaling Feature. Issued in December 2007, it claims one or more circuits for processing graphics and video images to create a blended image, the circuits comprising an interface receiving audio and/or video, and a processor coupled both to the interface as well as to a memory and operable to blend a plurality of graphics images using a plurality of alpha values to generate a blended graphics image in a format suitable to be blended with a video image. The technology covered here provides anti-flutter filtering that can reduce display flickers in television devices and improve the scaling of graphics to video by converting the normally square pixel aspect ratio of graphics to the normal rectangular pixel aspect ratio of video.
Other Broadcom patents which are asserted in the recent lawsuits include:
- U.S. Patent No. 7590059, issued under the title Multistandard Video Decoder. It claims a method for processing an encoded video stream by receiving packetized data on a chip and decoding the stream on the chip in a way that improves the efficiency of decoding video streams encoded under different encoding standards.
- U.S. Patent No. 8068171, titled High Speed for Digital Video. It discloses a system for displaying pictures at high speed by a factor of predetermined number which improves high speed playback by dropping pictures to be skipped in high speed mode in a more uniform manner.
- U.S. Patent No. 8284844, titled Video Decoding System Supporting Multiple Standards. It protects a digital media decoding system with a hardware accelerator that performs decoding according to a plurality of decoding methods, providing a cost-effective advance over the use of multiple hardware pieces for multiple decoding algorithms.
The Broadcom suits identify either smart television sets or video processing semiconductor products marketed by the defendants as the devices allegedly infringing the patents-in-suit. In its official complaint filed against LG, Broadcom identifies smart TV sets sold by LG including its Super UHD 4K HDR Smart TV and the C6 Curved OLED 4K HDR Smart TV, both of which use chipsets developed in-house by LG. In its official complaint against Funai, Broadcom identifies the Magnavox 50” Class 1080p LED LCD Smart TV, which utilizes an MStar processor, as an accused product. As well, Broadcom’s official complaint against Vizio identifies several smart TV products, including the Vizio M-Series 43” Class Ultra HD Full-Array LED Smart TV and the Vizio D-Series 50” Class Ultra HD Full-Array LED Smart TV; like LG, these Vizio smart TVs use processors developed in-house at Vizio.
In other cases, Broadcom’s allegations surround semiconductors practicing the technologies covered by the patents-in-suit. In its official suit against MStar, Broadcom targets the same semiconductor product utilized in the accused Magnavox TV discussed in the suit against Funai. Semiconductor products are also the focus of patent infringement allegations in Broadcom’s official complaint against MediaTek and the official complaint filed against Sigma Designs. The Sigma Designs lawsuit identifies an SoC solution first released in 2012 and noted for its use in smart TV platforms, including a 3D graphics engine and a high quality video processing pipeline.