Graphics card manufacturer NVIDIA announced yesterday that they are launching a patent infringement suit against ailing rival 3dfx. NVIDIA claims that 3dfx's Voodoo 3 and VSA-100 based graphics cards infringe five patents that they hold, and are seeking an injunction barring 3dfx from manufacturing or selling the cards, as well as claiming damages. NVIDIA's president Jen-Hsun Huang is quoted as saying that the company's "innovation is achieved through the annual investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development", and that they "cannot allow the fruits of this investment to be misappropriated".
This is certainly bad news for 3dfx, who are in dire straits anyway having posted poor financial results for the last couple of years, and are currently struggling to keep up with market leaders NVIDIA and ATI. Even if NVIDIA don't win the case, the legal fees that 3dfx will have to pay out to defend themselves could well cripple the company, while NVIDIA can easily afford to prolong the court battle for as long as it takes. No doubt this story will run and run, so stay tuned for more details as they become available.