Marvell Technology Group has been ordered to pay almost $1.54 billion by a U.S. district judge for infringing two hard disk drive patents held by Carnegie Mellon University. The amount is above the $1.17B that a jury awarded Carnegie in December 2012. The judge, Nora Barry Fischer, increased the payout because she believes that Marvell copied the IP with “known willful infringement.”

In her decision this week, Judge Fischer said in a statement, “Enhanced damages” were justified against Marvell and its Marvell Semiconductor unit because the university showed that they deliberately copied its patents through “known willful infringement.”

The Chicago Tribune reported that the payout is equal to 1.23 times the sum of the original $1.17 billion jury verdict from 2012, plus $79.6 million for alleged infringements that the jury did not consider because it had lacked some financial information at the time. “This award is sufficient to penalize Marvell for its egregious behavior and to deter future infringement activities,” the judge wrote in a decision.

Fischer rejected the university’s request to triple damages to $3.75 billion, saying it would severely prejudice Marvell and even threaten its survival.  ”Fears were the damages would be even higher,” Brean Capital Analyst Mike Burton, who in a research note. “Marvell may on appeal reduce the damages award by 80 percent, “if the case even stands to begin with.”

According to Marvell, it intends in an appeal to the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. to argue that the patents are invalid, that there was no infringement, and that the court erred in calculating a royalty rate of 50 cents per chip and applying it to chips sold abroad.

The case concerned patents issued in 2001 and 2002, and related to how accurately hard disk drive circuits read data from high-speed magnetic disks. Carnegie Mellon claimed that at least nine Marvell circuit devices incorporated the patents, letting the company sell billions of chips without permission.


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