Creative subsidiary ZiiLabs, formerly known as 3D Labs, alleges that Apple and Samsung have infringed on its patents with their smartphones.

ZiiLABS Logo HighRes 1024x266 Ghost of 3D Labs launches patent suit against Apple and Samsung

Creative Labs’ subsidiary Zii Labs, which was better known back when it was called 3D Labs, hasn’t been up to much in the last few years. Its last significant venture, and the word significant is being used lightly, were a few fairly generic Android tablets that caught some interest in the Chinese market but disappeared quickly thereafter. There were also a handful of ARM-based media processors like the ZMS series, that have been a non-starter and have had worse-than-Tegra levels of success.

But the old saying goes: “when you can’t innovate, litigate” and it looks like Zii Labs is doing just that.

According to a release sent to the press Tuesday morning, Zii Labs is suing Apple and Samsung in the United States for infringing its patents with various smartphone, tablet, and notebook products. The court documents aren’t yet available so the exact details on the nature of the alleged infringement are sparse, but below is a copy of the release sent out to the press:

ZiiLabs Inc., Ltd. (“ZiiLabs”) today announced that it filed a patent infringement lawsuit (“the lawsuit”) in the United States against Samsung and Apple. The lawsuit alleges that certain products of Samsung (including various Galaxy phones and tablets, and laptops) and Apple (including various ranges of the iPhone and iPad, iMac and MacBook Pro) infringe a number of ZiiLabs patents.

ZiiLabs owns over 100 US patents in the graphics, processor and 3D spaces. Ten of these patents have been asserted in the lawsuit, in which ZiiLabs is claiming past and future damages for patent infringement, and injunctions against Samsung and Apple. The lawsuit was filed on 10 March 2014 in the Eastern District of Texas. The patents being asserted are:

1. US 5,831,637 Video Stream Data Mixing for 3D Graphics Systems

2. US 5,835,096 Rendering System Using 3D Texture-Processing

Hardware for Accelerated 2D Rendering

3. US 6,111,584 Rendering System with Mini-Patch Retrieval from Local Texture Storage

4. US 6,650,333 Multi-Pool Texture Memory Management

5. US 6,683,615 Doubly-Virtualized Texture Memory

6. US 6,977,649 3D Graphics Rendering with Selective Read Suspend

7. US 7,050,061 Autonomous Address Translation in Graphic Subsystem

8. US 7,187,383 Yield Enhancement of Complex Chips

9. US 7,710,425 Graphic Memory Management with Invisible Hardware-
Managed Page Faulting

10. US 8,144,156 Sequencer with Async SIMD Array

ZiiLabs (formerly known as 3DLabs Inc., Ltd.) is a pioneer in 3D graphics, and a leader in media-rich application processors, advanced software and enabling hardware platforms. Over the past 20 years, its innovative products have enabled OEMs, ODMs, System Integrators and Software Developers to deliver industry-leading devices across a broad range of consumer electronics and embedded markets.

In November 2012, it had been announced that Intel had taken a license to ZiiLabs’ patents and technology.

The law firms Heim, Payne and Chorush (“HPC”) and Susman Godfrey (“SG”) act for ZiiLabs in the lawsuit. HPC is a Texas-based law firm specializing in complex patent litigation. Attorneys representing ZiiLabs include Michael Heim, Doug Wilson and Blaine Larson. SG is a leading US commercial litigation firm, with offices in Houston, Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York. SG attorneys Steve Susman, Max Tribble and Kalpana Srinivasan represent ZiiLabs.

It’s too early to give any sort of opinion on this case, as the court documents and exact nature of the allegations aren’t yet public. The strange part about the company’s apparent stratagem is that it is going after device makers when the patents are more related to the chipset and OS level.