August 2015

We must punish those who willfully infringe patents -- unless the infringer's losing patent invalidity defense is a "close call"

Marvell dodged a bullet in the case of Carnegie Mellon University v. Marvell Technology Group, Ltd. (Fed. Cir. Aug. 4, 2015). The jury and district court had found that Marvell willfully infringed certain Carnegie Mellon (CM) patents, and the judge slapped Marvell with enhanced damages (under 35 U.S.C. § 284) equal to 23 percent of the reasonable royalty award, or $287 million. On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed the award, finding as a matter of law that Marvell had an "objectively reasonable" invalidity defense to infringement.

The evidence of Marvell's intentional duplication of the methods and systems claimed in the Carnegie Mellon patents was striking. Marvell's engineers used the name of one of the CM inventors as the basis for internal code names for the product development project in which Marvell replicated the patented CM methods. What saved Marvell was its invalidity defense.

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