Marvell Semiconductor must reach into its pockets once again, having lost another patent-infringement lawsuit.
This time around, the victor was France Telecom, which sued Marvell in 2012 for infringing its patent on certain error-correction algorithms used in CDMA wireless networking, which licensed under the goofy name Turbo Codes.
The carrier filed its suit against Marvell just in time, as the patent in question – US Patent 5,446,767 – expired on August 29, 2012.
Marvell had argued that the Turbo Codes patent was invalid because it "comprises only algorithmic steps, unconnected to any structure or specific application."
But Judge William Orrick of the US District Court of the Northern District of California shot down that argument in April, ruling that the patent's claims met various legal standards of patentability and that Marvell had failed to provide the "high level of proof" required to invalidate it.
Marvell's defense was probably a longshot from the start, anyway, as France Telecom did pretty good business on the Turbo Codes patent before it expired. Broadcom, Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Xilinx were all licensees, for example.
Now a jury has found that several Marvell products had indeed infringed the Turbo Codes patent and pegged damages at a one-time lump sum payment of a cool $1.7m, according to court documents made public this week.
It wasn't as bad as it could have been. France Telecom had originally argued that Marvell's infringement was "willful" and that the damages should have been $10m, but the jury said no.
And the verdict was nowhere near as punishing as Marvell's loss of the lawsuit brought against it by Carnegie Mellon University, which left it with a bill for $1.535bn, the largest patent damages award in US history.
Marvell is appealing the Carnegie Mellon judgment and will likely do the same in the France Telecom suit. ®