Judge denies firm's bid to cut CMU's patent verdict in half

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A rare 10-figure patent verdict in favor of Carnegie Mellon University has survived a legal challenge as a federal judge rebuffed the defendant's effort to reduce it to around half a billion dollars.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer had already decided against Marvell Technology Group's bid for a retrial in the case in which a jury awarded CMU $1.17 billion for Marvell's infringement of a 1998 patent. In her 73-page opinion released late Tuesday, the judge rejected Marvell's argument that the legal doctrine of laches -- that a party can't collect damages caused by that party's own intentional delay -- should reduce the verdict by $620 million.

California-based Marvell was found liable for willfully using technology patented by CMU professor Jose Moura and then-student Alek Kavcic to increase the accuracy with which hard-disk drive circuits read data from high-speed magnetic disks. Judge Fischer, in upholding the huge verdict, noted that Marvell used the technology to bring in $10.34 billion in revenue and $5.05 billion in profit.

She found the CMU researchers worked on the technology from 1995 to 1998 and applied for a patent in the latter year. Marvell knew of their work, and the company developed its technology from 2001 through 2003.

Some people at CMU, according to testimony the judge cited, suspected by 2003 that Marvell was infringing on its patent, and late that year the university wrote to the company to inquire. Marvell did not respond and instead invested extensively in the technology from 2003 through 2009, when CMU filed its lawsuit.

Judge Fischer found that CMU's delay in filing the suit was "not fair to Marvell," but that was outweighed by the company's knowing infringement on the patent. Marvell has failed to show evidence, she said, that CMU lulled the company into making investments while plotting to sue later.

Other appeals continue in the case. A spokesman for CMU's legal team declined comment, and a spokeswoman for Marvell could not be reached for comment.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord. First Published January 15, 2014 9:32 AM

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