back to article US judge tells Marvell to pay Carnegie Mellon Uni $1.5bn in patent fallout

Chipmaker Marvell Technology has been hit with an extra $370m in damages for "wilfully infringing" on two hard disk drive patents owned by Carnegie Mellon University. Marvell's already billion-dollar damages bill has now gone up to a whopping $1.54bn, after US District Judge Nora Barry Fischer said that the university had …


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  1. asdf

    >"Under the correct claim construction, the asserted CMU patent claims are invalid and not infringed; and even if infringement were found, any damages should have been commensurate with the nominal license fees that CMU previously obtained from others," the firm has said

    Got to love douche bag lawyer talk. Because Carnegie Mellon is such a gold digger who never invented anything huh? And in general if you want favorable license fees then don't force a entity to sue and win on judgement first. Stealing IP I guess can be a good business model but not the way Marvell is doing it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      i agree

      They should only get to pay similar rates if they licensed the technology before using it.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Do juries get this sort of thing right more often that tossing a coin?

      Invalid and non-infringing is clear enough. Remember Oracle verses Google: Oracle tried to sue with hundreds of patents. The judge said that was impractical and they should pick their best three. If they succeeded with those three, they could come back with more. The best three turned out to be mostly invalid and the few claims that survived Google did not infringe. The case was reduced for a copyright claim for the test code for range check, which the judge said was so trivial as he could code it himself.

      Patent litigation is stuffed full of invalid claims against non-infringing products because the results are random. Billions in judgements and millions in Dane Geld whether or not there is any substance to the claim. According to Marvell, CMU's patents are so complicated that they cannot be implemented in real world chips. Marvell selected something simpler instead. I have no idea if CMU have invented anything, but I have yet to see a hard disk SOC manufactured by CMU. Perhaps it really is impossible to implement their design with current technology.

      1. asdf

        Re: Do juries get this sort of thing right more often that tossing a coin?

        >I have no idea if CMU have invented anything

        They have, including one of the first microkernels, Mach which in a convoluted way is the ancestor to Mac OS X kernel and that is just in computer science. From what I understand CMU are in the upper echelon of universities producing practical science in many other fields as well. I am generally not a big fan of patents (especially software patents) but I also know a whole lot of science produced in universities has been misappropriated by the private sector without fair compensation and in the case of public universities (not here I believe) that is basically stealing from the taxpayer.

        1. asdf

          Re: Do juries get this sort of thing right more often that tossing a coin?

          Big pharma especially is good at using public research money in universities to discover and test their drugs.

    3. LosD

      It's a university. It gets government funds. It should be allowed to patent absolutely NOTHING.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do any of these cases ever reach a point where no futher appeals are possible and the infringer is told to pony up the cash or have their executives go to jail? No, didn't think so.

    1. asdf

      Two words, billable hours. The scenario you described probably only happens once one party has ran out of money.

    2. Eric Olson

      There is a point...

      When you're claims are rejected enough times that the only recourse is the Supreme Court. Typically the other players in your market will try to keep you from going that far, as it might endanger lower court rulings in other circuits that are favorable.

      In an oddity of the US Judicial system, if a district or circuit court (covers a number of states and there are 13 total) rules one way in a case, but a different court in another part of the country rules another (or takes a different tack to arrive at the same conclusion) you end up with different precedents. As the Supreme Court cannot overrule or invalidate those rulings without a party petitioning the court, this creates areas where certain legal action is favored. As each court is largely independent and able to have their own process, it can mean that some plaintiffs prefer certain settings.

      If, however, you continue to sue and appeal, it will eventually reach the Supreme Court. If there is a lack of coherence among the various circuits, that tends to prod that old bear into taking a case. It's at that point that a point of no return is reached. You can't settle out of court once the Supreme Court takes on a case. So if in this case, Marvell tries to rely on a trick or procedure that is typically beneficial to IP owners in the hardware space, and it's found to be lacking in front of the Supreme Court, suddenly you aren't invited to the Silicon Valley Christmas parties, and you get a lot of mail returned as undeliverable or marked "Return to Sender." Just see the current software patent case that the Supreme Court entertained the other day. The list of software and IP holders on both sides is rather extensive. Someone is going to lose, and it won't be just a "Reserved for low-emission vehicles" space at the local Y....

      1. asdf

        Re: There is a point...

        >If, however, you continue to sue and appeal, it will eventually reach the Supreme Court.

        And the Supreme Court in the vast majority of cases refuses to hear the case.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There is a point...


          and in the interests of fairness and balance, what is your recourse if the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case? To whom do you appeal - or can you just refuse the pay the fines etc on the grounds that you are not being granted a hearing before the court that is competent to hear the case?

          1. MondoMan

            Re: There is a point...

            If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, the case's most recent court judgment stands.

          2. SDoradus

            Since end of C19 SCOTUS has not heard all cases

            You have no recourse. This means, since the Supremes are the final word on constitutional interpretation, that not all constitutional questions get decided except in the very limited areas where their jurisdiction is original, not appellate.

            For the rest, since the late 1800s SCOTUS has operated on a certiorari system. They only hear around one hundred cases per annum.

            Of course, this means in effect that the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Court for most cases. If they deny certiorari, which happens in nearly all cases, the last judgment appealed from will stand.

        2. asdf

          Re: There is a point...

          Yeah why did I get down voted? I was just stating a fact. As others say if the SCOTUS doesn't hear the case as usually happens the last court judgement before stands. Yes the system sucks bad in many cases (corporations are people too and money is free speech) but that is how it works.

          >To whom do you appeal - or can you just refuse the pay the fines etc on the grounds that you are not being granted

          You appeal to no one else unless you are those douche bag Twinklevii. Refusing to pay fines imposed by a court seldom ends well for a plaintiff. At least in the US judges have the ability to put significant hurt on you for non compliance.

  3. Stevie


    "The firm maintains that the 50c per chip royalty rate used wasn't right and believes damages should have been limited to Marvell chips in the US."

    So they don't deny the basic assertion that they are a bunch of thieves, then?

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