Marvell has options as it faces $1 billion patent verdict

Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:57pm EST
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By Andrew Longstreth

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As Marvell Technology Group Ltd embarks on a legal process to void a $1.17 billion damages verdict in a patent dispute with Carnegie Mellon University, it has some reasons to be optimistic.

The verdict was delivered on Wednesday by a jury in Pittsburgh, which found that Marvell had infringed two patents owned by Carnegie Mellon related to how accurately hard-drive circuits read data from high-speed magnetic disks.

On Thursday, Marvell said that it would seek to overturn the verdict through post-trial motions at the district court.

Marvell also said that, if necessary, it would appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That court, which oversees appeals in patent infringement cases, has proven willing to throw out large verdicts in the recent past.

Brian Love, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law who specializes in patent law, said damages awards are reversed about 20 percent of the time on appeal. Further, he said, "the larger a damages award is, the more susceptible it is to attack." The award is one of the largest by a U.S. jury in a patent infringement case.

Other large verdicts have not held up on appeal. In February 2011, Abbott Laboratories, for example, succeeded in overturning a $1.67 billion verdict against it in a patent infringement verdict won by a Johnson & Johnson unit.

That verdict, the largest ever by a jury in U.S. patent infringement litigation, was delivered in 2009 by a jury in Texas which found that Abbott's arthritis drug Humira had infringed the Johnson & Johnson unit's patent. But the Federal Circuit ruled that the patents at issue were invalid and thus could not be infringed.

Microsoft Corp has also successfully cut down big patent infringement verdicts delivered against it. In 2007, it was hit with a $1.52 billion verdict in a case brought by Alcatel-Lucent SA over patents related to digital music technology.   Continued...