Chip maker Marvell has just been hit with a massive fine, and it could only grow larger. The company has been accused of willfully infringing on two patents held by Carnegie Mellon University with the specifics of each making it into billions of chips worldwide. Marvell develops chips to power pretty much anything you can think of, but for enthusiasts, it’s storage that rings a bell the quickest.
The ruling stated that Marvell should pay $1.17 billion in damages, although it’s a number that could triple (rounded off to the maximum of $3.96 billion) should the judge decide to sway that way.
The exact patents are 6,201,839 which states, “method and apparatus for correlation-sensitive adaptive sequence detection”, and 6,438,180, “soft and hard sequence detection in ISI memory channels”. I’m not too well-versed in patents, but some have claimed that CMU is acting like little more than a patent troll, and it’s times like these where ordinary juries show their weakness. We’ve seen it with many other cases before this one.
Should the judge rule in CMU’s favor and fine Marvell for the maximum, it would engulf the entire valuation of the company. Marvell isn’t exactly a company we want to lose (though greater competition would be nice), so this, to me, is another example of patent fights gone wrong.