It has been a year filled with high stakes patent litigation for the U.S. technology sector, and that trend has continued all the way through to the final days of 2012. A Pennsylvania District Court judge has ordered semiconductor manufacturer Marvell Technology to pay Carnegie Mellon University $1.17 billion following the infringement of two patents tied to hard disk storage devices.
Marvell is a leading supplier of microchips used in hard disk drives, wireless networking equipment and a range of other products. According to PCWorld, the company's misappropriation of CMU's patent portfolio has only been amplified by the fact that the components in question have since been passed down through customers' supply chains.
Jurors also determined that Marvell's infringement was willful, which could mean the final damages are a multiple of the current $1.17 billion total. The company plans to appeal the ruling, according to PCWorld, and insists the university's patented systems lack real-world functionality and were only used in combination with Marvell's proprietary solutions.
According to Ars Technica, the financial damages would equate to more than one year of profits at Marvell and represent the largest such award to date if the verdict is upheld. What's more, it could also provide hope to university researchers which all too often see patent litigation turn into a net loss regardless of the jury's decision.