Nvidia might face import bans due to a patent lawsuit against the company that makes its chips

(Image credit: TSMC)

In what could potentially have enormous implications in the tech sector, GlobalFoundries, one of the world's largest semiconductor foundries, is suing TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) and seeking an import ban on certain products, including ones produced for Asus and Nvidia.

GlobalFoundries filed multiple lawsuits in the US and Germany alleging that semiconductor technologies used by TSMC, another one of the world's biggest foundries, infringes on 16 of its patents.

"In filing the lawsuits, GF seeks orders that will prevent semiconductors produced with the infringing technology by Taiwan-based TSMC, the dominant semiconductor manufacturer, from being imported into the US and Germany. These lawsuits require GF to name certain major customers of TSMC and downstream electronics companies, who, in most cases, are the actual importers of the products that incorporate the infringing TSMC technology," GlobalFoundries stated in a press release.

According to the lawsuits, infringing technologies run the gamut from 7-nanometer to 28-nanometer chip solutions. Incidentally, AMD is one of TSMC's clients, specifically for its Ryzen 3000 CPUs based on a 7nm manufacturing process, as well as its previous generation Ryzen parts. However, AMD is not named in the lawsuit, and would presumably be unaffected by any outcome in favor of GlobalFoundries.

The same is not necessarily true for a host of other companies, including Apple, Asus, Arista, Avnet/EBV, BLU, Broadcom, Cisco, Digi-key, Google, HiSense, Lenovo, Mediatek, Motorola, Mouser, Nvidia, OnePlus, Qualcomm, TCL, and Xilinx.

Should the courts ultimately rule in favor of GlobalFoundries, there could be import bans imposed on everything from Apple's iPhones and Android handsets from OnePlus, to even Nvidia's GeForce graphics cards.

How likely is that to actually happen, though? Nvidia declined a request for comment, which out of all the names listed, is the most relevant to PC gaming.

Patrick Moorehead, the founder and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, offered up some analysis to our friends at TomsHardware.

"With GlobalFoundries focusing more on IoT [Internet of Things] and RF [radio frequency], it appears to be going after companies that likely won't be future customers but are believed to infringe on its patents for leading-edge process. You can bet GlobalFoundries was trying to collect royalties behind the scenes, failed, and will now let the courts decide," Moorehead said.

Even if GlobalFoundries is ultimately successful, it's probably a safe bet companies would come to a royalty arrangement rather than let products be banned for importation.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).