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Marvell loses patent battle badly

by on01 April 2014

Has to pay $1.54 billion

Marvell Technology will have to pay nearly $1.54 billion for infringing two hard disk drive patents held by Carnegie Mellon University. U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer in Pittsburgh, where Carnegie Mellon is based, said "enhanced damages" were justified because the university presented enough credible evidence to establish that Marvell through "known willful infringement" deliberately copied its patents.

The amount of cash involved is staggering. In fact it is 1.23 times the sum of the original $1.17 billion jury verdict from December 2012, plus $79.6 million in damages for alleged infringements that the jury did not consider because it lacked recent financial information at the time.

Judge Fischer said Marvell knew of the patents for at least seven years prior to Carnegie Mellon's March 2009 lawsuit and this was designed to send a message to Marvell for its egregious behaviour and to deter future infringement activities.

Marvell said it was reviewing the decision and preparing a response. However it could have been a lot worse. The university wanted double or triple damages. However the Judge felt that would "severely prejudice" Marvell and perhaps threaten its survival.

The case concerned patents issued in 2001 and 2002, and related to how accurately hard disk drive circuits read data from high-speed magnetic disks. Carnegie Mellon claimed that at least nine Marvell circuit devices incorporated the patents, letting the company sell billions of chips without permission.

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