Thursday, December 27th 2012

Marvell Ordered to Pay $1.17 Billion in Damages to University for Patent Infringment

Storage and application processor maker Marvell Technology has been ordered by a Federal Jury in the US state of Pennsylvania to pay a local university $1.17 billion in damages for patent-infringement. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) developed and patented a technology that "increases the accuracy with which hard disk drive circuits read data from high-speed magnetic disks," which Marvell has been found to be infringing. Why $1.17 billion? Because these chips are an indispensable component in modern mechanical hard disk drives, made by both Seagate and WD, among others.

If and when US District Court Judge Nora Barry Fischer agrees with the Jury ruling that Marvell's infringements of CMU's patents are "willful," the fine could triple, according to K&L Gates. The jury found that Marvell sold "billions" of chips carrying the University's technology. What makes this verdict important for the PC industry is that since Marvell's HDD components are widely incorporated in HDDs across various brands, should CMU seek a sales-ban, it could potentially affect HDD production the way last year's unfortunate floods in Thailand did.

Sources: CNN, arstechnica, Image Credit: The Register
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24 Comments on Marvell Ordered to Pay $1.17 Billion in Damages to University for Patent Infringment

#1
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Many Thanks to FordGT90Concept for the tip.
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#2
ALMOSTunseen
The university obviously needs a renovation. Marvell is royally screwed.
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#3
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
$1.17 billion can run the university for a decade.
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#4
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
by: ALMOSTunseen
The university obviously needs a renovation. Marvell is royally screwed.
At the cost of the hard drive market? Their greed will piss off consumers yet again if hard drive prices return to where they were after the flooding. Patent or no patent, if they decide to try to pursue a sales ban, all they're doing is hurting the market. It would be a smarter move to try and collect on it, rather then halt it.
by: btarunr
$1.17 billion can run the university for a decade.
Who wants to bet that administration will get a raise in 2013? :wtf:
Posted on Reply
#5
ALMOSTunseen
by: Aquinus
At the cost of the hard drive market? Their greed will piss off consumers yet again if hard drive prices return to where they were after the flooding. Patent or no patent, if they decide to try to pursue a sales ban, all they're doing is hurting the market. It would be a smarter move to try and collect on it, rather then halt it.

Who wants to bet that administration will get a raise in 2013? :wtf:
Well, this is the world we live in now. The market will still live, the SSD market still hasn't overtaken fully, so hdd's may still live on, the price of HDD's should settle after a year or so.
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#6
bencrutz
and then what? marvell files bankruptcy protection?
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#7
Aceman.au
by: Aquinus

Who wants to bet that administration will get a raise in 2013? :wtf:
This made my night.
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#8
dicobalt
So does anyone know how they calculate these patents to be worth $1.17B?
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#9
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
by: ALMOSTunseen
Well, this is the world we live in now. The market will still live, the SSD market still hasn't overtaken fully, so hdd's may still live on, the price of HDD's should settle after a year or so.
I don't want to pay 250 USD for a replacement 1TB drive if one in my RAID fails. It's ludacris.
by: Aceman.au
This made my night.
You know it's true and quite frankly it's disgusting.
Posted on Reply
#10
ALMOSTunseen
by: dicobalt
So does anyone know how they calculate these patents to be worth $1.17B?
They probably just work out, how much the little thing is worth, then multiply it by the amount of them sold.
Posted on Reply
#11
3870x2
by: ALMOSTunseen
They probably just work out, how much the little thing is worth, then multiply it by the amount of them sold.
Probably much more complex than that, but that is the general idea.
Posted on Reply
#12
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: dicobalt
So does anyone know how they calculate these patents to be worth $1.17B?
Billions of chips were sold that are based on the infringing patent. I'm pretty sure each chip fetched Marvell at least $1?
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#14
Hellfire
okay, just my two cents,

Firstly, I hope prices don't rise, I use A LOT of HDD's for working n stuff so I don't want to raise prices.

It seems there is still problems as to whether or not the patent was infringed, if it was, I say good on the CMU, at the end of the day they are loosing out on the money from others using their projects. However, saying that I hope if the case stands up that CMU and Marvell reach a settlement inc royalties on the products rather than a complete sales ban on the item.
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#15
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
by: btarunr
$1.17 billion can run the university for a decade.
In 2006 CMU dumped over 300 million into R&D. I'm pretty sure they could burn through a billion in a year considering the number of affiliate campuses they have.
That being said, if CMU wins all of the appeals (which will come) I hope that they use the money for more R&D and not just to pad a bunch of tenured professors' wallets.
Posted on Reply
#16
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
by: Kreij
I hope that they use the money for more R&D
I don't if they just sit on the patents and do nothing with them except try to extort money from other companies that most likely legitimately developed their own technology. What CMU is doing is research, I see no development to attempt and actually build what these patents cover on their end...
Posted on Reply
#17
dicobalt
by: btarunr
Billions of chips were sold that are based on the infringing patent. I'm pretty sure each chip fetched Marvell at least $1?
Yes but those chips implemented many many other patents also, not just those infringing ones.
Posted on Reply
#18
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
by: Aquinus
I don't if they just sit on the patents and do nothing with them except try to extort money from other companies that most likely legitimately developed their own technology. What CMU is doing is research, I see no development to attempt and actually build what these patents cover on their end...
I pretty sure that CMU would happily allow people to license their IP.
If the courts rule that Marvell willfully and intentionally used CMU's IP without compensating them for it, then that was their bad, not CMU's.

Just my opinion. :)
Posted on Reply
#19
Steven B
schools spend a crap-load of money on research, I went to GT and they spend about $650 million in 2011 for research, mostly from the government tho and doesn't see the light of day. We even have patents on graphene and such and when i walked through the labs they were funded either by big names like Intel and IBM or the US government which has its own very secure facilities.

I mean this is why they research, to get patents, i mean they do allow the use of them, this is just like long term investments.

Obviously there is enough evidence for them to say it was infringed and willfully at that, that willfully part is a big deal, if they can prove that, then it is pretty bad for marvell. But there are other controllers for HDDs, Marvell's is probably either cheap or very good, my guess would be cheap.

Also the issue is that I bet one of the CMU original engineers who thought of this found this in their controller, and that really got him going, because universities aren't like apple, suing everyone for everything, however in this case the evidence must have been very strong. Or CMU is going bankrupt lol.
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#20
3870x2
Patent squatting at its best. It is starting to be big money these days.

Exactly how bad would things be if the patent system simply didn't exist? (this is a serious question)

I know some of the obvious outcomes, but it is pretty much just being abused for patent infringement.

Todays patent system has turned into a game of monopoly. When manufacturing a product, there is a chance that you might accidentally land on the wrong block and end up going bankrupt owing someone money, with no fault of your own.
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#21
LightningJR
oh no, im in the market for a large HDD... I better get it soon :banghead:
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#22
Steevo
I like the pic of the burned out drive board.


I disagree with this as.

Jury of "peers" of normal mouth breathers who "can't their ifone doesn't do it" on facebook, VS anyone with any sort of technical background.
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#23
Steven B
by: 3870x2
Patent squatting at its best. It is starting to be big money these days.

Exactly how bad would things be if the patent system simply didn't exist? (this is a serious question)

I know some of the obvious outcomes, but it is pretty much just being abused for patent infringement.

Todays patent system has turned into a game of monopoly. When manufacturing a product, there is a chance that you might accidentally land on the wrong block and end up going bankrupt owing someone money, with no fault of your own.
If it didn't exist then you would have much less drive towards innovation as the the drive to produce new technology by universities and companies would be much less. Cheap ripoffs of technology that took years to make would appear on a much greater scale. But that isn't the big issue, the big issue would be less innovation.
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#24
random
That is an incredibly dodgy move by Marvell, although I'll remain a skeptic and say that this is just another excuse to spike HDD prices up as it's gone down by alot this last month.
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