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Marvell loses bid to reduce $1.17 billion U.S. patent verdict

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) - Marvell Technology Group Ltd has failed to convince a federal judge to reduce by more than half a $1.17 billion jury verdict for infringing two hard disk drive patents held by Carnegie Mellon University.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer in Pittsburgh, where Carnegie Mellon is based, on Tuesday denied Marvel's bid to cut about $620 million from the award on the basis that the university unreasonably delayed pursuing its claims for patent infringement.

Marvell had contended that Carnegie Mellon had constructive knowledge of the allegedly infringing products six years before the lawsuit was filed in March 2009. The chipmaker called the delay unreasonable, saying it suffered economic or evidentiary prejudice.

Carnegie Mellon countered that it had at most heard "rumors" or "suspicions" that its patents were being infringed. The university said its delays in suing Marvell were reasonable and no prejudice resulted.

In her ruling, Fischer said the evidence established that Carnegie Mellon by April 5, 2003, had evidence of Marvell's possible infringement of its patents that was "more than sufficient to trigger a duty" to investigate a possible legal claim.

But the judge said Marvell hadn't shown a "sufficient nexus between its capital expenditures and CMU's delays in this case."

"Accordingly, the court finds that Marvell has not met its burden to demonstrate economic prejudice," Fischer wrote.

Representatives for Marvell and Carnegie did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The ruling was the latest setback for Marvell in its efforts to overturn or trim the verdict award.

A jury in Pittsburgh handed down the damages in December 2012 in what ranks as the third-largest in U.S. patent litigation award since 1995, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study released in June.

The case centered on patents issued in 2001 and 2002 related to increasing how accurately hard disk drive circuits read data from high-speed magnetic disks.

Carnegie Mellon filed the lawsuit in March 2009, contenting at least nine Marvell circuit devices incorporated the patents, enabling the company to sell billions of chips without the university's permission.

Marvell began removing the technology from its chips after the verdict, but infringing sales are expected to continue throughout 2014, Fischer said in her decision Tuesday.

Damages could still increase further in the case. In a September ruling denying Marvel's request for a new trial, Fischer found that the company's infringement was willful, potentially subjecting the chipmaker to triple damages.

Fischer in her decision Tuesday said the issue of further penalties "will be determined in a later decision."

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 Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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