Judge Slaps Down Bid to Throw Out $1.1B Verdict
(CN) - A company that owes Carnegie Mellon University $1.17 billion for patent infringement drew ire from a federal judge in its attempt to get a new trial.
Carnegie Mellon had sued Marvell Technology Group and Marvell Semiconductor for willful infringement of two sequence-detection patents in high-density magnetic recording devices.
Marvell faced an initial setback as the case went to trial when it failed to procure a jury instruction on the doctrine of laches, which penalize inexcusable delays in filing suit.
Finding that Marvell had not demonstrated when Carnegie Mellon became aware of the infringement, or how the university's alleged delays caused Marvell evidentiary or economic prejudice, the court refused to send the issue to an advisory jury.
Two months after a jury awarded Carnegie Mellon of nearly $1.17 billion on Dec. 26, 2012, Marvell moved for an in camera review of laches-related documents withheld by Carnegie Mellon.
U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer denied the motion and chided the company for taking such action nearly three years after receiving privilege logs and two years after the close of discovery.
Around the time that Carnegie Mellon lost its bid for $17.2 million in attorneys' fees, Marvell moved for judgment as a matter of law or, alternatively, a new trial on non-damages issues. The defendant also renewed its motion for a mistrial based on alleged misconduct by counsel for the university during closing arguments and throughout the trial.
Judge Fischer bristled at the implication.
"Marvell, in throwing old and new grievances at the court under the guise of prejudice, is trying to do what it could not do at trial: convince the court to throw out this case and hope that a second time around will be more successful," Fischer wrote. "The jurors, this court, and its staff, devoted four weeks of their life around the holidays to pay careful and thorough attention to the merits of the case, and unfounded, broad assertions of 'prejudice' or an 'inflamed' jury are insufficient to erase that result and mandate a new trial."
In denying the motion last week, the judge noted that she "cannot begin to fathom how Marvell's attorneys or anyone could think this jury was 'inflamed.'"
Noting "how attentive and studious the jury was throughout the trial," the judge disagreed that Carnegie Mellon's then president, Dr. Jared Cohon, prejudiced the jurors by referencing the university's nonprofit status and location in Pittsburgh.
"The court is at a loss how CMU could be expected to present this case to the jury without mentioning 'Pittsburgh,'" Fischer wrote, abbreviating the school's name. "In his testimony, Dr. Cohon was simply giving background information on the university and the [Data Systems Storage Center] DSSC, which served to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the invention of the patents in suit."
Carnegie Mellon did not prey on some racial or national preference, the ruling states.
"Both Marvell and CMU had numerous fact witnesses who were foreign born," Fischer wrote. "Besides, Pittsburgh is a city of immigrants and CMU itself has a very diverse student body, particularly a large Asian population."
Fischer denied Marvell's claim about the university's alleged misconduct and promised to address the remaining issues separately.