CMU wins billion-dollar patent infringement lawsuit

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A jury today found in favor of Carnegie Mellon University in a patent case with billion-dollar financial implications.

The jury in U.S. District Court found that Santa Clara, Calif.-based Marvell Technology Group and Marvell Semiconductor Inc. infringed on patents built on the work of CMU professor Jose Moura and then-student Alek Kavcic. The technology they developed increased the accuracy with which hard-disk drive circuits read data from high-speed magnetic disks.

Marvell argued that the method was subject to an earlier patent, acquired about 1995.

The nine jurors disagreed.

Marvell not only infringed on the CMU patents, but did so knowingly and had no reasonable defense, the jury found. They awarded $1,169,140,271 in damages to CMU. The finding of willful violation of a patent could multiply that figure by as much as three times if U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer opts for that remedy.

The Pittsburgh-based law firm K&L Gates represented CMU.

"We take special pride in this trial victory because of the decades-long relationship between our firm and Carnegie Mellon University and our deep appreciation for CMU's pathbreaking and leadership role in the Information Age," Peter J. Kalis, K&L Gates' chairman, said in a press release.

K&L Gates partners Douglas Greenswag and Patrick McElhinny led the plaintiff's team.

Attorney Kevin P. Johnson, of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, who led Marvell's defense, had no immediate comment.

Pre-verdict filings suggest that an appeal is almost certain.

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Rich Lord:, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.


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