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Carnegie Mellon Verdict|Averts Untimely Defense

(CN) - A "wild goose chase" will not pose a hurdle to the nearly $1.2 billion awarded by a jury to Carnegie Mellon University for patent infringement, a federal judge ruled.

Carnegie Mellon sued Marvell Technology Group and Marvell Semiconductor for willful infringement of two sequence-detection patents in high-density magnetic recording devices.

As the case went to trial, Marvell sought to advise the jury that it thought the suit had been unduly delayed. The court refused to enter the laches instruction, however, after determining that the parties had failed to meet and confer.

On Nov. 28, 2012, the court held that the issue would not be decided by an advisory jury, since Marvell had not specifically demonstrated when Carnegie Mellon first became aware of the infringement or what evidentiary or economic prejudice Marvell had allegedly sustained due to the university's alleged delays to that point.

Marvell failed to win an evidentiary hearing on laches on Feb. 7, and believed it could not present certain testimony at trial due to time limits it had imposed. The court nevertheless said Marvell could supplement its claims with supporting affidavits, and allowed additional discovery only by Carnegie Mellon.

Close to three years after receiving privilege logs, two years after the close of discovery, and two months after a jury verdict of nearly $1.17 billion, Marvell moved to compel or review in camera laches-related documents withheld by Carnegie Mellon.

The university countered in its response that Marvell showed no good cause for the untimely discovery of privileged materials.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer agreed with Carnegie Mellon on Thursday.

"The court held countless conferences on the status of discovery in this case, for the purpose of resolving any and all disputes," Fischer wrote. "Not once in any of the discovery status conferences or motions on discovery did Marvell raise this issue. The court never prevented Marvell from obtaining any such evidence, and indeed even granted the parties several extensions to the original discovery deadlines. Marvell has offered no argument or evidence of good cause to show that diligent discovery of this material was not possible. Marvell has been represented by experienced and well equipped counsel throughout this case." (Emphasis in original.)

Marvell missed many chances to mention laches sooner, according to the ruling.

"The defense of laches was not unbeknownst to Marvell or its counsel, as it first raised the defense in its answer on June 1, 2009 and again in its amended answer April 29, 2010," Fischer wrote. "Now, nearly four years later, two years after the close of discovery, two months after trial, and in the middle of the post-trial briefing, Marvell requests to open up the legal files of CMU to find 'possibly dispositive' laches evidence. As of Nov. 20, 2012, Marvell claimed to be prepared to submit the issue of laches to the jury, and there was no mention of additional discovery needed. This untimely request would necessarily delay the court's final adjudication of this case. The court has ordered a hearing on all arguments regarding post-trial motions on May 1, 2013, and it will not entertain such 'wild goose chases' at this late juncture."

The judge refused to review in camera laches-related documents.

"As often repeated during this trial, 'what's good for the goose, is good for the gander,'" Fischer wrote. "Just as CMU fell prey to its lack of discovery on privileged communications, so too does Marvell."

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