Intellectual Property Attorney

$1.17 Billion Jury Award Against Marvell Technology Group Ltd. Stokes Controversy Over Patent Litigation Damages Awards

As 2012 made its exit and 2013 stepped in, patent litigation continued to be a hot and trending topic. In December, semiconductor producer Marvell Technology Group Ltd. was slapped with a $1.17 billion jury award in a patent infringement action in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit was brought by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) against Marvell and its U.S. operating subsidiary, Marvell Semiconductor, Inc., claiming that Marvell infringed two CMU patents. The two patents concerned a technique associated with read channel detector technology. Following a jury trial, the jury upheld the validity of the patents and found that Marvell’s infringement was willful, subjecting it to enhanced damages. Marvell continues to insist that it did not infringe the patents.

The jury award is one of the largest ever in a patent infringement litigation. Large jury awards are routinely subject to scrutiny and challenge, but especially so in the patent infringement context. In 2007, a jury awarded Alcatel-Lucent $1.52 billion in damages against Microsoft – but the award was later overturned by a trial judge. In 2009, Centocor was awarded $1.67 billion in damages against Abbott Laboratories – but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned the verdict in that case.

In a Joint Status Report filed by the parties on January 2, 2013, Marvell and CMU outlined a number of post-trial motions the parties intend to file. Among them, Marvell seeks to set aside the jury verdict by filing a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law on the issues of non-infringement, invalidity, no willful infringement and damages. Marvell also intends to renew a motion for mistrial. If Marvell is not successful, we assume they will file an appeal on a variety of issues, including the propriety of the amount of the damages award.

The Wall Street Journal predicted that patent litigation would continue steadily in 2013 due, in part, to so-called “patent trolls”. Of course, the steady stream of patent litigation cases is not solely the result of “patent trolls”. It is also likely to be due to the ever increasing importance and value of patent rights. The stakes in virtually every patent litigation are exceptionally high. Not only is there the potential for exposure to substantial damages. There is also the considerable costs of prosecuting or defending patent infringement actions.

The case in question is Carnegie Mellon University v. Marvell Technology Group, Ltd., et al, 09-CV-290 (W.D. Pa.). We will continue to update our blog concerning this case as well as other developments in patent litigation and damages.

Share Button
Grimes LLC