Marvell, Carnegie Mellon agree to slash disk drive chip patent check in half – to a mere $750m

Case is over ... and two boffins are about to get paid

Chipmaker Marvell has agreed to pay $750m to settle its long-running patent feud with Carnegie Mellon University.

The two sides agreed to a settlement package to end a case that was due to be reheard by the Western Pennsylvania District Court on appeal after a US Appellate Court struck down an earlier ruling that would have had Marvell paying $1.5bn in back royalties.

Carnegie Mellon said that after legal fees it would be splitting the settlement money with the researchers who invented the technology in the two patents the infringement case was based on.

"A substantial share of the proceeds will go to the inventors, José Moura, a professor in Carnegie Mellon's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Aleksandar Kavcic, a former doctoral student of Moura who is now a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Hawaii," the university said.

The case centered around a pair of patents related to the chips in hard disk drives and which Marvell had been accused of violating in the 1990s, US Patents 6,438,180 and 6,201,839.

"In the early 1990s, Moura and Kavcic made a conscious decision to forego incremental improvements, and focus instead on challenges they expected would arise in years to come, as magnetic recording devices pushed toward their physical limitations," the university said of the technology.

Marvell described the settlement as "mutually agreeable" and said that under the terms of the settlement, all pending appeals related to the case will be dismissed; after paying the $750m to Carnegie Mellon, it will not need to pay any further royalties. The company noted that it had already set aside $388m in legal reserves for the case. ®


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