Marvell Faces Billion Dollar Fine Over Hard Drive Patents

Posted on December 27, 2012 1:30 PM by Rob Williams

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.

  • Kayden

    “so this, to me, is another example of patent fights gone wrong.” I totally agree.

    I have no love for employers and patent holders who hold all the keys to innovation. There is no reason for people to be forced to give up their work when it isn’t on company time and there is no reason for companies to charge insane amounts of royalties for an idea that is used and considered a standard that is used by other companies, just so they can sell something that plays ball with that companies hardware! These are sick, sick, sick people who do that and I wish that our Gov or a standards and ethics comity that would step in and say no you can’t take some ones idea cause it wasn’t on your time and no you can’t charge more then this for your patent, no matter what it is, end of story. Keeping these prices low and keeping innovation open and free is the only way we will truly push forward to the next great idea.

    • Rob Williams

      Apparently CMU offered to license the patents, but Marvell didn’t believe it had to (given that the same patents were utilized in other things). It’s a messy market, that’s for sure.

Recent Tech News
Recent Site Content