It turns out that Nvidia has been embroiled in a pitched legal battle for the trademark to its next-generation Hopper GPUs with an unlikely foe: Dish Network. The latter contests Nvidia's 2019 filing of a trademark for the term 'Nvidia Hopper' on the grounds that it infringes upon its own 'Hopper' trademark. Dish Network uses the Hopper branding for its DVR and satellite receiver devices. It's easy to understand why Nvidia would like to trademark the 'Hopper' term — it's the rumored codename for its future GPUs. While there's little chance people would confuse Dish's devices with Nvidia's upcoming data center GPU, deciphering the legal ramifications are never easy.
The legal battle began on April 23, 2021, when Dish Network LLC filed a notice of opposition in the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) against Nvidia Corporation for its trademark of the term 'Nvidia Hopper.' Dish contends that Nvidia's trademark will be confused with its own trademarked terms, including Hopper, Hopper Go, Hopper Duo, Hopper Plus, and a few other variants.
The Nvidia trademark application under scrutiny is quite broad — it lists everything from a GPU, various software, 'cloud computing services,' and LCD devices as being under the umbrella of the 'Nvidia Hopper' term.
Hopper is the rumored codename of one of Nvidia's next-gen GPU architectures slated for arrival this year. In traditional Nvidia fashion, the architecture codename pays homage to a prominent scientist. In this case, it's the late Grace Hopper, who was a monumental figure in computing that developed the programming language COBOL and invented the first compiler, among many other achievements.
The Hopper GPU architecture is rumored to be a multi-chip module (MCM) design that leverages TSMC's 5nm node, and all signs point to this being an HPC-specific GPU design.
After digging into the history of the long-running legal battle, it appears that the two companies have been negotiating a settlement since May of 2021, with periodic suspensions for settlement lodged over the preceding months. The last activity on the case came on December 23, 2021, with a fifth motion to suspend for a 60-day period as the two sides continue negotiations.
The various legal activities, like pre-trial discovery, are slated to resume automatically on February 22, 2022, if the two parties don't agree to a settlement or file for another motion to suspend proceedings. Given that Nvidia's Hopper GPUs are rumored to debut this year, we expect to hear word of a settlement sooner than later.
Nvidia is also expected to debut its next generation consumer GPUs, codenamed 'Ada' or 'Lovelace,' later this year. Unlike Hopper, we're not aware of any trademark disputes over those codenames.