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US university wins $1.5bn lawsuit against chip maker Marvell

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA, has been awarded $1.5 billion (around £900 million) after successfully suing US chip maker Marvell Technology Group.

The university had been seeking damages of up to $3.7 billion (£2.2 billion) for the infringement of two of its hard disk patents. A jury had previously awarded it $1.1 billion (£661 million) before.

Presiding federal judge Nora Barry Fischer refused the university's calls to triple the damages, on the risk that it might threaten Marvell's survival.

The patents involved were issued in 2001 and 2002 and relate to how accurately a hard drive detects data within its storage.

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According to Carnegie Mellon, at least nine Marvell manufactured chip boards included the patents, which could have meant billions of chips were shipped infringing the patent.

It sued in 2009 and it was revealed during the following case that Marvell had known for at least seven years before the legal action that it had been infringing Carnegie's patents.

The company is planning to appeal against the ruling, which will be heard by a specialised patent court. The new court will decide on whether the reparations Marvell has to pay are proportionate and decide the legitimacy of the patent claim.

K&L Gates, the law firm which represented Carnegie, told the BBC: "We understand that Marvell intends to appeal, and we look forward to the federal circuit vindicating Carnegie Mellon University's intellectual property rights just as Judge Fischer did."