A substantial share of the proceeds will go to the inventors, José Moura, a professor in Carnegie Mellon's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Aleksandar Kavcic, a former doctoral student of Moura who is now a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Hawaii.
Carnegie Mellon University (“CMU”) sued Marvell Technology Group, Ltd. and Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. (collectively “Marvell”) for infringing two patents related to hard-disk drives. A jury found for CMU on infringement and validity, and it awarded roughly $1.17 billion as a reasonable royalty for the infringing acts, using a rate of 50 cents for each of certain semiconductor chips sold by Marvell for use in hard-disk drives. The district court then used that rate to extend the award to the date of judgment, awarded a 23-percent enhancement of the pastdamages award based on Marvell’s willfulness (found by the jury and the district court), and entered a judgment of roughly $1.54 billion for past infringement and a continuing royalty at 50 cents per Marvell-sold chip.
Marvell appeals. We affirm the judgment of infringement and validity. As to the monetary relief: We affirm the rejection of Marvell’s laches defense to pre-suit damages. We reverse the grant of enhanced damages under the governing willfulness standard, which does not require that Marvell have had a reasonable defense in mind when it committed its past infringement. We reject Marvell’s challenge to the royalty (past and continuing) with one exception.
CMU owns U.S. Patent No. 6,201,839, titled “Method and Apparatus for Correlation-Sensitive Adaptive Sequence Detection,” and related No. 6,438,180, titled “Soft and Hard Sequence Detection in ISI Memory Channels,” both granted to Drs. Aleksandar Kavcic and José Moura. The patents’ written descriptions are largely identical, and both patents claim methods, devices, and systems for improved accuracy in the detection of recorded data when certain types of errors are likely due to the recording medium and reading mechanism. The inventions are particularly suited for the magnetic data-storage media of hard-disk drives in computers.