Carnegie Mellon v. Marvell: Another $1b verdict.

By Dennis Crouch

Marvell's stock price plunged about 10% following news that a jury had awarded well over $1 billion patent infringement verdict to Carnegie Mellon University. Download MarvellVerdict.  The verdict is based upon finding of direct literal infringement of claim 4 of Patent No. 6,201,839 and claim 2 of Patent No. 6,438,180. The CMU hometown Pittsburgh jury also found that Marvell induced infringement by encouraging customers to use its chips. Regarding validity, the jury held that the asserted claims were neither anticipated nor obvious. One of the key pieces of evidence in the trial was an old email from a Seagate engineer noting that the CMU invention went well beyond the current state of the art. (Of course, that email was focused on advances found in the disclosure rather than the broad claims asserted by CMU.) Seagate was apparently happy to provide that document to be used against its market competitor. It is that same Seagate engineer's prior patent application that served as the core of Marvell unsuccessful invalidity argument.

An interesting element of the verdict involved particular willfulness questions. The jury particularly held that (1) Marvell knew of the asserted patent before the lawsuit; (2) had no reasonable defense for its actions; and (3) knew or should have known that its actions were infringing. The verdict did not, however, ask whether the action was "willful." CMU will ask the court to rely upon those answers to treble the damage award. If the damage award is trebled (tripled) and interest added, the award will be roughly equivalent to Marvell's $3.8b market valuation. (The award is larger than CMU's current endowment.) In the initial complaint, CMU also requested attorney fees and a permanent injunction.

This is the second billion dollar judgment against a Quinn Emanuel client awarded in the past few months.

Marvell has announced that it will prevail on appeal. In a pretrial ruling, district court judge Nora Fischer denied Marvell's motion for summary judgment of anticipation, but noted that it was a "close call" based upon her construction of the asserted claims. Marvell did not exercise its authority to seek a reexamination of the patent at the USPTO. Over the next six months, both parties will file and respond to post-verdict motions. Judge Fischer announced her intention to make a final ruling in the case in May 2013. If the verdict is confirmed by Judge Fischer, Marvell will then have an opportunity to appeal after posting a "supersedeas bond." If the damage award is roughly equivalent

The asserted patent claims are basically signal processing logic algorithms for determining the value of items coming from a computer memory signal. This is necessary because the "0" and "1" that we normally talk about for binary digital signals is not actually accurate. In particular, the invention indicates that you should apply a "signal dependent" function to calculate the value as a way to overcome noise in the signal. Apparently a key distinguishing factor from the prior art is that the decoding functions used are "selected from a set of signal-dependent functions." The asserted claims do not identify the particular functions used, only that functions are used.

The two infringing claims are as follows:

Claim 4 of US Patent 6,201,839:

A method of determining branch metric values for branches of a trellis for a Viterbi-like detector, comprising:

selecting a branch metric function for each of the branches at a certain time index from a set of signal-dependent branch metric functions; and applying each of said selected functions to a plurality of signal samples to determine the metric value corresponding to the branch for which the applied branch metric function was selected, wherein each sample corresponds to a different sampling time instant.

Claim 2 of US Patent 6,438,180 (Claim 2 is dependent from Claim 1 and I combined the two together):

A method of determining branch metric values in a detector, comprising:

receiving a plurality of time variant signal samples, the signal samples having one of signal-dependent noise, correlated noise, and both signal dependent and correlated noise associated therewith; selecting a branch metric function at a certain time index; and applying the selected function to the signal samples to determine the metric values, wherein the branch metric function is selected from a set of signal-dependent branch metric functions.

Folks focused on subject matter eligibility issues will notice the obvious problems raised by the asserted claims.

327 thoughts on “Carnegie Mellon v. Marvell: Another $1b verdict.

  1. 327

    The patent laws have become a huge misconception. We cannot make laws for each individual discovery. Has anybody taken a patent for “Wheel invention”? Then why should you put your name on each patent? Also are the companies utilizing the patents well or just copying them and making money? It comes to personal self-respect in these type of things! link to

  2. 325

    “I predict MM will not take up this challenge.”

    You are a truly wise Jedi Master.

  3. 324

    Nor do the words dignity, honor, gracious, courage, ..have any place in a post coming from MM.

  4. 323

    Max:”The thing is, you see, nobody, not you, not EG, not anybody, had a more admirable father than mine.”

    Only you Max would come back with a straw man rather than simply apologize for your inappropriate response. No one, not EG, Not myself is talking about your dad, and no one is saying E.G.s dad was above your dad or anyone else dad.

    And if you are not apologizing perhaps you would best stick to trying to learn US Patent Law, especially “Integration Analysis”.

  5. 322

    The silly “You have again failed to answer my question” routine

    aka the anonTucket Sleighride.

    Keep your ticket stub! The raffle prizes are awesome.

  6. 321


    Reread the thread.

    I politely asked you for clarification and only became snarky when you initiated the snark (this falls in line with handing your head back to you).

    There was no deliberate misunderstanding. To say that and not clarify the point left hanging (which you have done) is intellectually dishonest. You plainly posted self-contradicting statements. Your choice not to clarify leaves one to surmise that either you don’t understand what you are peddling, or that you have vastly overblown the “unassailableness” of what you are peddling.

    Either way, my point is hardly silly at all. You have left a gap a mile wide, and while you may decide that you are bored and don’t want to fill that gap, the record left behind speaks for itself.

    In any regards, if you want to get off your very undeserved pedestal, stop your poor attempts at snark and either fill in the gap or admit that you cannot, the choice is yours – but make no mistake of what the record here clearly evidences. Try not to be self-delusional like your circle mates.

  7. 320

    Actually you now have made more than one and only statement.

    You are aware that not answering is an answer – that such says more than you likely wanted to say, right?

  8. 319

    In the shooting fish in a barrel category:

    I will do the same and we can discuss and debate the results in accordance with law and the guidance. That is if you truly are capable of a substantive discussion.

    I predict MM will not take up this challenge.

  9. 318

    Here we go again. The silly “You have again failed to answer my question” routine that he subjected me to, when the question is a ridiculous one, that comes out of his deliberately misunderstanding one’s post.

    If I were you, I would simply ignore his “you failed” post. In my experience, replying just encourages him.

  10. 317

    btw, I notice that you failed to actually answer my question.

    You apparently have a keen eye to go along with your deft hand and rapier wit. I’ve made my one and only statement on this topic. Do what you will with it.

  11. 316

    Notwithstanding the snark, you and your hypocritical circle mates provide an abundance of opportunity

    btw, I notice that you failed to actually answer my question. Perhaps you were “too busy” with your vacuous replies, or more likely too embarrassed by what your own post says about you.

  12. 315

    My post is the opposite of misunderstanding – shedding a light of understanding with a deft hand and rapier wit.

    Oh, so that’s what you’ve been doing. Well then, carry on.

  13. 314

    Lays it bare?


    Read again MaxDrei and not with the blinders on of defending your circle mate, or of your own hypocrisy blinding you to the hypocrisy of Leopold, who is only too willing to attack pseudonymous bloggers (but only particular pseudonymous bloggers).

    My post is the opposite of misunderstanding – shedding a light of understanding with a deft hand and rapier wit.

    Don’t be mad that the blade stings – it is supposed to.

    As for timing, I recall posts by you at all hours of the day and night – glass houses and all that.

  14. 313

    Whether anon on this blog exhibits a mind “desirous of misunderstanding” has been the subject of earlier comments. The comment he has just made (at 06:25 am) lays it bare. He’s not just desirous, he’s desperate to misunderstand. And look at the time. It’s the mindset with which he starts each new day of his life, including week-ends, I should add.

    A bit sad I would say. so, Leo, you were right all along.

  15. 312

    I cannot help but see a more sharp contrast in choices of “honoring” a father by comparing the behavior of MaxDrei and EG (notwithstanding MaxDrei’s circle mates attempts at defending the indefensible).

  16. 311


    I just want to make sure I see this correctly – are you saying that attacking pseudonymous blog posters lacks professionalism and dignity?

    I would like to know as you reload your quiver with the arrows at your feet.

  17. 310

    MM: “Just to be clear, the patent claim has to be granted or you won’t discuss it?”

    Look, since you seem so timid, afraid, and likely to run away at any moment, I am going to make this easy for you.

    Below is claim one from Ultramercial, now GVRed by the Supreme Court in view of Prometheus.

    Perform “Integration Analysis” according the USPTO Official Guidance and let me know if the claims are statutory or not. Here is the link to the guidance.

    link to

    I will do the same and we can discuss and debate the results in accordance with law and the guidance. That is if you truly are capable of a substantive discussion.

    1. A method for distribution of products over the Internet via a facilitator, said method comprising the steps of:

    a first step of receiving, from a content provider, media products that are covered by intellectual-property rights protection and are available for purchase, wherein each said media product being comprised of at least one of text data, music data, and video data;

    a second step of selecting a sponsor message to be associated with the media product, said sponsor message being selected from a plurality of sponsor messages, said second step including accessing an activity log to verify that the total number of times which the sponsor message has been previously presented is less than the number of transaction cycles contracted by the sponsor of the sponsor message;

    a third step of providing the media product for sale at an Internet website;

    a fourth step of restricting general public access to said media product;

    a fifth step of offering to a consumer access to the media product without charge to the consumer on the precondition that the consumer views the sponsor message;

    a sixth step of receiving from the consumer a request to view the sponsor message, wherein the consumer submits said request in response to being offered access to the media product;

    a seventh step of, in response to receiving the request from the consumer, facilitating the display of a sponsor message to the consumer;

    an eighth step of, if the sponsor message is not an interactive message, allowing said consumer access to said media product after said step of facilitating the display of said sponsor message;

    a ninth step of, if the sponsor message is an interactive message, presenting at least one query to the consumer and allowing said consumer access to said media product after receiving a response to said at least one query;

    a tenth step of recording the transaction event to the activity log, said tenth step including updating the total number of times the sponsor message has been presented;

    and an eleventh step of receiving payment from the sponsor of the sponsor message displayed.

  18. 309

    I wonder if EG’s dad had the nuts to admit when he was wrong and acknowledge graciously that someone else was right. If so, it didn’t rub off apparently.

    What a hypocrite you are MM.

    By your own admissions your “policy” views on software patents lay in ruins. And what do you graciously do? Engage in blatant lying.

    Ridicuously childish? – that is the epitome of your vacuous and insult-laden postings.

    anon’s endless stream of ‘I know you are but what am I’ retorts” – from you, the first and most prolific accuser of others of what you do, the gall is unbelievable. The liar always thinks that everyone else lies all the time.

    The sad thing is that you don’t even know when your head has been handed to you. You are either blithely unaware, or perpetually self-delusional.

    It is no wonder your discussions stay away from fact and law, you would have to have “the nuts to admit that you are wrong and acknowledge graciously that everyone else is right. Clearly you advocate that which you do not know.

  19. 307

    In more pertinent legal news, Clarence Thomas today spoke into his microphone for the first time since Feb. 22, 2006

    Naturally, the 4 words he spoke were essentially incomprehensible.

    link to

    U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

  20. 306

    I say X and Y = one of the alphabets

    Therefore all X and Y’s are alphabets.

    You think!

  21. 305

    Ned: “They did hold the claims ineligible, but not because the claims were directed to a business method, but because the claims were abstract.”

    We agree.

    Ned: Still, that they were directed to a business method was well understood.

    Wrong, legally and for patent purpose the claims were “directed” to an abstract idea.

    Ned: So, it cannot be true that business method claims are categorically eligible.

    Your logic falls apart here. No one is making the “categorically” argument and your premise does not support that conclusion.

    Ned: They are, rather, not categorically inelible even thought they are business methods.

    You implication for business methods is based on a fallacy. Nothing is categorically ineligible unless it is a LoN, Natural Phenomenon, or an Abstract Idea. Business methods are not one of those exceptions.

    Ned: In most cases they are abstract.

    Totally unsupported bull sheet! Sorry, I am not anon, and I am not going to be polite. I call bull sheet when I smell it.

    Ned: But, if they are not abstract, they are potentially eligible. But if they are not abstract, they are also not business methods, but claims that otherwise would pass the MOT.

    Methods, business or otherwise can be patent eligible, and thus not abstract, even if they do not pass the CAFC MoT. Thus MoT is NOT a requirement.

    You logic fails.

    You fail.

    Not even Maxie is d umb enough to cheer for you now.

  22. 304

    I think invoking the memory of anyone’s deceased father in the pursuance of attacking pseudonymous blog posters is in poor taste.

    I don’t know about “poor taste” but it’s ridiculously childish. As I already noted, I thought anon’s endless stream of “I know you are but what I am I” retorts defined the essence of the playground universe he inhabits. But “you’re lucky my dad’s not here” takes it to another level.

    I wonder if EG’s dad had the nuts to admit when he was wrong and acknowledge graciously that someone else was right. If so, it didn’t rub off apparently.

  23. 303

    101, you continue to use a legal term in a confusing, and an intentionally confusing way, and for a purpose.
    X = Y does not mean that some X are Y.  You mean, all X are Y.


  24. 302

    Ned: “Logic.

    “Republicans are teapartiers. The problem with this statement is that not all Republicans are teapartiers. Get it?”


    Republicans are Republicans.

    Teapartiers are Republicans

    Teapartiers are one type of Republican.


    Methods are Methods

    A Business Method is a Method

    Business Methods are one type of Method.

    Get it?

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