Asetek isn’t happy about its patent being allegedly used in AMD R9 Fury X and Gigabyte GTX 980 WaterForce (GV-N980WAOC-4GD). This is because both the units use water cooling systems from Coolermaster. Not too long ago, Asetek won the patent infringement case against Cooler Master and its American subsidiary company ‘CMI’ where Asetek will be getting 14.5% royalty per sale from Cooler Master units, such as the Seidon, Nepton and Glacer (Swiftech rebrand) series.
Earlier Asetek filed a lawsuit against Swiftech, who then decided to halt all sales in the United States. It’s because of this, many end users were unable to buy Swiftech H220 and H320 unless they get it shipped from a neighbouring country. But Swiftech signed up with Cooler Master resulting in a rebranded package to avoid any legal fist-fight with Asetek.
It’s not a secret that AMD Fury X graphic cards uses a CLC made by Cooler Master. Asetek isn’t clear about what it wants (other than cease of sales which was the same case for Cooler Master liquid coolers but then turned out to be a royalty settlement) but the company did release a statement:
Asetek’s attorneys have recently sent cease and desist letters to Gigabyte, demanding that it cease selling Giga-Byte’s GEFORCE GTX 980 Water Force (sold under at least model number GV-N980WAOC-4GD) because it contains the Seidon 120M found by the court to infringe Asetek’s patents.
Asetek’s attorneys have also written a cease and desist letter to AMD, demanding that it stop selling its Radeon R9 Fury X product, because it infringes Asetek’s patents. Our attorneys have had some difficulty obtaining a Gigabyte GV-N98TXTREME W-6GD, but we expect to receive and analyze one very soon for infringement.
This could be a problem for AMD Fury X. It should be noted that the card only has a reference design and cannot be re-designed by its AiB partners. Asetek has a good record of winning such cases including the patent infringement case against Cooler Master. Since both Gigabyte GTX 980 Extreme and AMD Fury X is using a part of the cooling unit from Cooler Master, one will have to wonder what will AMD do. It might be a matter of time that both companies will need to comply.
What would make things tricky is that Asetek clarified further that it does not have any license sharing agreement with Cooler Master, nor it intends to:
There is no licensing agreement in place with Cooler Master, nor do we plan to offer any in the foreseeable future. Asetek sued Cooler Master and CMI USA, Inc. (Cooler Master’s US affiliate) for infringement of Asetek’s US Patent Nos. 8,240,362 and 8,245,764, and the jury found that the Cooler Master products at issue infringe Asetek’s patents and awarded damages to Asetek. The judge also entered an injunction prohibiting Cooler Master and CMI USA from importing or selling the accused products in the US, and the judge awarded enhanced damages because of continued sales after the jury’s verdict. The injunction states ‘[a]s used herein, Infringing Products shall mean the following Cooler Master products: Seidon 120M, Seidon 120XL, Seidon 240M, Seidon 120V, Seidon 120V Plus, Nepton 140XL, [Nepton 280L], Glacer 240L, and products not more than colorably different from them.
To be fair, it’s uncertain if Cooler Master paid a royalty to Asetek for the units that are already used in AMD Fury X and Gigabyte GV-N98TXTREME W-6GD. Meanwhile, Asetek is evaluating other liquid cooled products that may use the alleged infringed patents, namely Gigabyte GTX 980 Ti Xtreme. As of now, we can only wait and watch what happens next.