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Marvell Technologies Faces Potential $4 Billion Fine for Patent Infringement

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A USA university could be in line for a USD4 billion windfall payment if a court decides that the infringement of its patents by Marvell Technologies was "willful".

The court has already ruled that the USA based chipmaker has to make a payment of USD1.17 billion to the Carnegie Mellon university. However, the jury also found that the firm had wilfully infringed the patents, which could see the damages tripled.

The damages could end up being nearly equivalent to the company's entire stock market valuation of just under USD4 billion.

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) contended -- and the jury agreed -- that Marvell infringed CMU patents relating to fundamental technology for increasing the accuracy with which hard disk drive circuits read data from high-speed magnetic disks.

Through its verdict, the jury found that Marvell had sold around 2.3 billion chips incorporating the technology between 2003-12 without a license to do so. Marvell contended that its chips did not use CMU's technology and that CMU's patents were invalid but the jury disagreed.

Marvell has said that it will appeal the verdict.

If the verdict is upheld and the damages increased as is possible, then it would be the largest patent damages award in US history. However, high damages awards decided by juries are often reduced on appeal to the judge.

The case was tried before Judge Nora Barry Fischer in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

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