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December 27, 2012

Carnegie Mellon Wins Suit over Marvell Group for Noise Predictive Detection Patents, Largest to Date

By Joe Rizzo, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Marvell (News - Alert) Technology Group Ltd. is a microprocessor company based in Hamilton, Bermuda. Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. produces semiconductors and is based in Santa Clara, California.

On December 26, 2012, a jury in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania found that Marvell was guilty of patent infringement.

In 2009, Carnegie Mellon University, a private research university in Pittsburgh, sued Marvell on the grounds that the firm infringed on patents concerning “noise predictive detection” technology. After a month long trial, the jury found in favor of Carnegie Mellon.

The patents that Marvell on which is accused of infringing pertain to the use of hard disk drive (HDD) circuits reading data from high-speed magnetic disks.

Carnegie Mellon’s law firm, K&L Gates, said the patents related to systems and methods developed by Professor Jose Moura and Aleksandar Kavcic, a doctoral student.

Marvell argued that Carnegie Mellon’s patents were obtained improperly by withholding information about prior inventions from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The jury upheld the validity of both patents and ruled that Marvell either knew or should have known that its actions would have infringed on the patents.

To date, Marvell has sold billions of chips that use the noise predictive detection technology. All of the chips that were sold were done so without being licensed. Marvell was ordered to pay $1.17 billion to Carnegie Mellon.

The jury found that Marvell infringed on the patents willfully, meaning the judge could award a sum equal to triple the damage. This could come close to $4 billion dollars. Nora Barry Fischer, the trial judge, set a hearing on May 1, 2013 to hear any final arguments and make a final judgment on what the final payout will actually be.

This is quite a blow to Marvell. According to the figures, $1.17 billion is almost twice what Marvell’s profit was in its latest fiscal year. After the news of losing the law suit, shares of Marvell fell 10.3 percent.

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Edited by Braden Becker
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