A federal jury this week found Marvell Technology and Marvell Semiconductor guilty of patent infringements and ordered the companies to pay $1.169 billion in damages to Carnegie Mellon University for infringements of patents related to positioning of hard disk drive heads by HDD controllers. Marvell will oppose the decision and claims that the legal proceedings will have no effect on its business.
This case deals with fundamental technology for increasing the accuracy with which hard disk drive circuits read data from high speed magnetic disks. The systems and methods were developed and patented by Jose Moura, a professor in the university's department of electrical and computer engineering, and Aleksandar Kavcic, a former Ph.D. student of Moura who is now a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university of Hawaii. The work that led to the invention by Moura and Kavcic was supported by the university's data storage systems center (DSSC), an interdisciplinary research and educational center whose mission is to advance information storage technologies.
Marvell develops and sells various controllers for hard disk drives that are widely used by numerous manufacturers. In the lawsuit, CMU asserted that Marvell infringed two CMU patents claiming a specific technique related to read channel detector technology that is, according to Marvell, not practiced by any Marvell chips. Specifically, the patents at issue are U.S. Patent Nos. 6,201,839 and 6,438,180. Marvell and Marvell Semiconductor strongly believe the theoretical methods described in these patents cannot practically be built in silicon even using the most advanced techniques available today, let alone with the technology available a decade ago. Rather, Marvell and Marvell Semiconductor use their own patented read channel technology developed in house.
“We are gratified by the jury's unanimous verdict in favor of Carnegie Mellon today in our patent infringement case against Marvell Technology Group and Marvell Semiconductor. We felt the evidence we submitted was compelling, and the jury agreed. Protection of the discoveries of our faculty and students is very important to us. We appreciate the willingness of the jurors to give us their time and attention during this holiday season to hear our case,” the official statement by the Carnegie Mellon University reads.
Marvell and Marvell Semiconductor believe there should be no disruption to their business or to customers as a result of the verdict. Marvell and Marvell Semiconductor believe that the evidence and the law do not support the jury’s findings of infringement, validity and the award of damages. There are strong grounds for appeal and Marvell and Marvell Semiconductor will seek to overturn the verdict in post-trial motions before the District Court and, if necessary, to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. Marvell and Marvell Semiconductor intend to vigorously challenge the judgment through all appropriate post-trial motions and appeal processes. In addition, the district court in Pittsburgh has yet to rule on certain of Marvell's defenses and motions, including laches and Marvell's renewed request for a mistrial.