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Scanner's VisionFlex 3D scanning system
Patent infringement over manufacturing techniques

A company called Scanner Technologies this week announced that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against NVIDIA. According to the press release, Scanner Technology claims that NVIDIA willingly sold products based on a 3D ball-grid array (BGA) inspection system that allows for more reliable products. The system also allows better manufacturing efficiency.

Scanner Technologies is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions against NVIDIA, and hopes that it can get back legal and court fees as well. It is also seeking an undisclosed amount of damages from NVIDIA's product sales. According to Scanner Technologies:

The complaint alleges that nVidia has sold and/or is presently selling throughout the United States infringing BGA devices that are covered by one or more claims of the Scanner Patents. The complaint also alleges that nVidia has induced others to infringe. These BGA devices are a component in graphics cards, motherboards, computers, video game consoles, cell phones and handheld devices that are sold in the United States.

So far, NVIDIA has not responded to the suit. However, president and CEO of Scanner Technologies Elwin Beaty said "Scanner has been developing, manufacturing and selling vision equipment for the semiconductor industry since 1990. We believe that it is critical to protect our patented innovations, and accordingly took these actions today." The premise for the case is that NVIDIA developed its products using a similar technology to Scanner.

Sales for Scanner Technologies' products were up. The company ended June 30, 2006 with $1.57 million in sales compared to $955,000 for the same time last year.

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What patent?
By peternelson on 9/19/2006 7:35:43 PM , Rating: 2
Well there are different ways to address the same problem, so maybe Nvidia's solution is sufficiently different.

Lots of companies assembled boards using BGA parts so I wonder if they could be affected too?

Is this suit against the process of assembling the bga onto the board , or the process of checking the BGA component (or manufacturing it to decrease defects) before it is ready for assembly?

It's entirely possible to use a kind of xray equipment to check if the solder pads are good. In patent legalese, something must be "non-obvious" whereas that sounds to me like an obvious extension of visual inspection.

However, this function is often done using the JTAG boundary scan protocol which enables all connections to be tested electronically using extra logic in the device itself. Many modern chips support JTAG testing.

I doubt NVIDIA used EXACTLY the same processes as this company patented so it may be down to legal arguments.

If anyone knows the specific patent(s) allegedly infringed, please post.

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