A federal judge has ordered Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Santa Clara, Calif.) to pay $1.54 billion in "enhanced damages" for infringing two hard disk drive patents belonging to Carnegie Mellon University.
This is an increase on the $1.169 billion in damages originally ordered in January 2013 and is due to the fact that the infringement was ruled to be wilful. However it is less than the triple damages that Carnegie Mellon had originally sought.
The fine, one of the largest ever imposed in the semiconductor industry could have a serious impact on Marvell but it is reported that U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer in Pittsburgh declined to order triple damages saying it might threaten the fabless chip company's survival. The judge also declined to order Marvell to stop selling chips that infringe the patents.
Marvell is still free to appeal the ruling.
An original jury verdict in the case was delivered on Dec. 26, 2012, as part of a lawsuit brought by Carnegie Mellon University against Marvell Technology Group and subsidiary Marvell Semiconductor Inc. alleging they had infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 6,201,839 and 6,438,180 over a period back to 2003.
Marvell's defense was that the patents protect a technique related to read-channel signal detection that is not used in any Marvell chips but the jury disagreed with Marvell's position.
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