Carnegie Mellon wins $1.17 billion in patent case

Jury's finding of willful violation could triple figure

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A jury found in favor of Carnegie Mellon University on Wednesday 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, however, found that Marvell not only infringed on the CMU patents but did so knowingly and had no reasonable defense. They awarded $1.17 billion in damages to CMU.

The jury's 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 news release.

A spokesman for Marvell, who asked not to be named, said the firm "is obviously disappointed with [Wednesday's] verdict. Marvell is hopeful of the post-trial motion process."

Among many other motions challenging parts of the trial process, Marvell on Friday sought a mistrial. That motion was denied, without prejudice, by the judge, and could be revisited.

If the post-trial motions are not successful, the spokesman said, Marvell will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord


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