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Marvell stuck with $1.17 billion patent bill

Loses bid for reduced damages in Carnegie Mellon U spat

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Fabless chip vendor Marvell Technology has lost the latest round in its patent battle with Carnegie Mellon University, with a judge denying its bid to have its penalty reduced.

The university had sued Marvell over two patents, US 6,201,839 (here) and US 6,438,180 B1 (here), in a complaint first filed in 2009.

Marvell lost the case, and in 2012 was hit with a $1.17bn judgement. That sum was based on a 50 cents per chip royalty imposed by the jury in the 2012 trial.

The company was asking the judge to reduce that penalty by $620 million on the basis that CMU had waited too long to file its complaint, since the patents were awarded in 2001 and 2002. US district judge Nora Barry Fischer agreed that the delay was “unreasonable and inexcusable”, but left the penalty in place.

The judge said Marvell was aware of the patents it was infringing (something which could yet see the penalty increased), saying “Marvell’s decision to continue production despite this infringement action demonstrates Marvell’s apparent acceptance of the business and legal risks”.

Judge Fischer is still considering whether the $1.17bn awarded by the jury should be increased on the basis of wilful infringement, something which could see the penalty as much as tripled. As Bloomberg reports, the company has already incurred a $US200 million interest bill since the original verdict. ®

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