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S3 Graphics seeks ITC trade ban on iPad, iPhone

updated 06:25 pm EDT, Wed June 2, 2010

S3 claims Apple handhelds, Macs violate patents

S3 Graphics late last week filed a complaint (PDF) against Apple with the International Trade Commission for allegedly violating four patents relating to encoding and decoding images. It accuses Apple of copying the technology with the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Certain MacBooks and Apple software, such as SDKs, also supposedly imitate S3's work.

The complaint, like most ITC requests, calls for a ban on imports of all the Apple products.

S3 is best known from the early days of 3D graphics for its ViRGE hardware, which provided basic hardware acceleration at a time when the feature was new. The company gradually sank in relevance for North American audiences but continues to make dedicated graphics cards like its Chrome 500 series. At least some of the relevant patents are believed in use by the Chrome boards.

By Electronista Staff


  1. solefald

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2008


    wait... S3???

    I thought they fell off the cliff in the days when PCI was still hot choice for video cards.

  1. byRyan

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007



    well, lets see the iPhones graphics actually work, without glitches or tears in the image... so they couldn't be using any of s3's technology!

    I had an s3 card in the late 90s and it was TERRIBLE!! jerky playback of graphics... failing on games like half-life crashing in soft-image. I switched to nVidia's G-force and never looked back!

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Slight Improvement

    Well, on one hand, this sounds an awful lot like patent trolling (though not knowing any specifics, I of course can't say for sure). On the other hand, at least S3 actually MAKES something with the technology in question, rather than just being a black hole where good ideas go to die as with most patent trolls.

    To be honest, I didn't realize S3 was still in business, either, but hey, there's a market for bargain-basement graphics cards.

  1. macentric

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2005


    Patent for displaying a graphic????

    I just read that complaint and based on the non-technical description of the article it certainly sounds as though S3 was somehow granted a patent for display and compressing a graphic. Unless their complaint is very specific I don't see any reason that these patents won't be invalidated. Interestingly it also looks like they are targeting the Imagination Technologies PowerVR core which likely means that S3 intends to sue pretty much every smartphone and tablet vendor on the market.

    Interesting that they are targeting Apple (yes Apple is part owner of Imagination, as is Intel) as opposed to Imagination considering they specifically reference Imagination by name in the complaint.

    Hopefully these patents will get invalidated as there should be plenty of prior art with technologies like JPEG long predating these patents.


  1. CmdrGampu

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2009


    I always thought...

    S3 and Matrox both disappeared years ago when ATI and Nvidia took over the market. Turns out they're both in business. How? I can't possibly imagine.

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