A federal judge ordered Marvell Technology Group Ltd to pay nearly $1.54 billion for infringing two hard disk drive patents held by Carnegie Mellon University, nearly one-third more than a jury had previously awarded.
In a decision late Monday, U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer in Pittsburgh, where Carnegie Mellon is based, said “enhanced damages” were justified because the university presented enough credible evidence to establish that Marvell through “known willful infringement” deliberately copied its patents.
The payout is equal to 1.23 times the sum of the original $1.17 billion jury verdict from December 2012, plus $79.6 million in damages for alleged infringements that the jury did not consider because it lacked recent financial information at the time.
Judge Fischer said Marvell knew of the patents for at least seven years prior to Carnegie Mellon’s March 2009 lawsuit.
“This award is sufficient to penalize Marvell for its egregious behavior and to deter future infringement activities,” the judge wrote in a 72-page decision.
Marvell said it was reviewing the decision and preparing a response. It has argued that the base damages award, equal to 50 cents per chip, was legally unsound, and that a one-time $250,000 royalty payment would have been enough.
Fischer rejected the university’s requests for double or triple damages. Such a payout could have boosted the award to $3.75 billion, which the judge said would “severely prejudice” Marvell and perhaps threaten its survival.
Carnegie Mellon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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.
Marvell is based in Hamilton, Bermuda, and its main U.S. operating unit is based in Santa Clara, California.
The initial $1.17 billion award was the third-largest in U.S. patent litigation since 1995, PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a June 2013 study.
Marvell shares closed at $15.75 on Monday on the Nasdaq.
The case is Carnegie Mellon University v. Marvell Technology Group Ltd et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, No. 09-00290.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)
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