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Judge Upholds CMU's $1.17B Patent Verdict

Tue, 09/24/2013 - 7:51am
Kevin Begos, Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- There's no need for a new trial over a $1.17 billion patent infringement verdict that Carnegie Mellon University won last year against a California technology firm, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer said Marvell Technology Group didn't present convincing arguments for overturning the award or ordering a new trial in a case over semiconductor chips that used technology developed by a CMU professor and student.

"Marvell is in its current predicament because it deliberately undertook a series of strategic risks," Fischer wrote, adding that "Marvell's bad facts and even worse litigation strategy were fatal to its cause."

In December 2012 a jury awarded the Pittsburgh-based university more than $1 billion based on a royalty of 50 cents per semiconductor for Marvell chips that used the Carnegie Mellon-related technology. More than 2 billion chips were produced, and evidence presented at the trial showed that Santa Clara, Calif.-based Marvell made an operating profit of $5 billion from their sale.

Marvell's attorneys said the suggested royalty was too large, and sought to have the award reduced under a law that allows judges to do so if a jury returns a verdict that "shocks the conscience."

But Fischer ruled that the huge verdict was "part of Marvell's own making" because the company failed to keep records, kept using the technology even after the lawsuit began, and took the case to trial despite attempts at mediation.

Fischer rebuked Marvell sternly, even noting that she'd observed two of Marvell's expert witnesses asleep during the proceedings and that "in all likelihood, the jury made the same observation."

A spokesman for Marvell didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

The verdict is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which reviews patent law decisions.

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