Chip Maker Will Fight Record-Breaking Verdict in Patent Infringement Case

January 4, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Orange County - Marvell Technology Group said it would fight the $1.17 billion in damages it was ordered to pay to Carnegie Mellon University by a Pennsylvania jury on Wednesday for infringing patents held by the university.

The Bermuda based technology company and its U.S. subsidiary, Santa Clara based Marvell Semiconductor Inc., known as MSI, were found to have knowingly infringed two of the university’s patents.  This could allow U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to treble the damages.  The companies were also found to have contributed to infringement by their customers.

Marvell manufactures chips for hard disk drives that are used in computers, mobile phones and other wireless products.  Carnegie filed the lawsuit against Marvell in early 2009.  The patents in question cover fundamental technology that allows hard disk drive circuits to read data from high-speed magnetic disks with greater accuracy by filtering out noise and other unwanted electrical signals.

The technology was developed by a professor in Carnegie’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Jose Moura, and one of his former students, Aleksandar Kavcic.  Marvell plans to fight the $1.17 billion award, which is the fourth largest award ever granted in a patent infringement case.  All three verdicts larger than the verdict against Marvell were overturned on appeal.

First Marvell will attempt to overturn the verdict with post-trial motions, and if it is unsuccessful the company believes it has a strong case for appeal.  According to Marvell, it did not infringe patents granted to Carnegie in 2001 and 2002.  The company claims the decade-old technology covered by the patents in question is impractical to use in the chips it manufactures.

“Marvell and MSI strongly believe the theoretical methods described in these patents cannot practically be built in silicon even using the most advanced techniques available today, let alone with the technology available a decade ago,” Marvell said. “Rather, Marvell and MSI use their own patented read channel technology developed in house.”  Marvell is also planning to use the fact that Carnegie Mellon University was granted the entire amount it requested to attempt to overturn the verdict.  The company claims that the amount, which was decided by a hired expert, was based on questionable assumptions rather than facts.