Judge orders chip maker Marvell to pay Carnegie Mellon $1.54B in patent case

Chip maker Marvell Technology has been ordered to pay Carnegie Mellon University $1.54 billion for infringing on two hard drive chip patents the school applied for in 1997.


A U.S. district court has ordered chip maker Marvell Technology to pay Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) $1.54 billion for infringing on two hard drive chip patents.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer in Pennsylvania ends for now a five-year legal battle between the two. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2009. In 2012, a jury found Marvell had violated CMU's patents, and the chip maker then appealed that ruling.

The case involves chip technology that "significantly improves" the ability of drives to more accurately detect data stored on spinning disk platters. CMU originally applied for the patents in 1997.

An example of what Marvell makes: A reference design for a serial ATA controller chip, though not one covered by CMU's patents. (Image: Marvell Technology)

The court awarded CMU a total of $1.54 billion, which includes the jury's verdict of $1.17 billion, along with supplemental damages of $79.5 million and $287 million in punitive damages for willful infringement.

Marvell was also ordered to pay interest at 0.14% annually, and 50 cents for each infringing chip it sells in the future.

Neither CMU nor Marvell could be reached for comment on the decision.

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is [email protected].

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