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A Snapshot of University Patent Litigation

December 11, 2015

Today's blog is written by guest author Pedram Sameni, the CEO and Founder of Patexia.
The views expressed are solely those of the contributing author.

As patent litigation overall has grown rapidly since 2010, the industry has also seen a shift in some traditionally litigation averse players. University tech transfer organizations in particular have increased their filings and drawn industry attention over the last few years.

Two cases in particular have been highlighted in the press for their stunning initial award amounts. First Carnegie Mellon won its case against Marvell, bringing in an initial award of over $1 billion in damages, the largest patent verdict of all time. This was followed by the decision in WARF v Apple, where the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation was initially awarded $234 million in damages.

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Carnegie Mellon v. Marvell: District Court Denies Request for $17 Million in Attorney's Fees Without Prejudice Pending Appeal of Underlying Judgment

July 3, 2013

Carnegie Mellon University ("CMU") filed a motion for attorney fees pursuant to 35 U.S.C. Section 285, seeking attorney fees of approximately $17.2 Million as a prevailing party at the jury trial against Marvell Technology Group ("Marvell") that resulted in a jury verdict of over $1 billion. The jury also found that Marvell's infringement was willful.

Section 285 provides that "the court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party." "Although an attorney fee award is not mandatory when willful infringement has been found, precedent establishes that the court should explain its decision not to award attorney fees." Whitserve, LLC v. Computer Packages, Inc., 694 F.3d 10, 37 (Fed. Cir. 2012) cert. denied, 133 S. Ct. 1291 (2013) (citing Spectralytics, Inc. v. Cordis Corp., 649 F.3d 1336, 1349 (Fed. Cir. 2011)). As the district court explained, "[t]he inquiry into attorney fees is related to both willfulness and enhanced damages as explained under § 284, given similar considerations are relevant to both. Id. at 38. 'However, the situations in which § 284 and § 285 may be invoked are not identical' because attorney misconduct or other 'aggravation of the litigation process' may weigh heavily in regards to attorney fees, but not as to the enhancement of damages. Id."

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Micron Sends Email to Professors at the University of Illinois Stating that Micron Would Withhold Funding from the University Because It Remained a Defendant in a Patent Infringement Action Brought by the University

April 22, 2013

The University of Illinois filed a patent infringement action against Micron Technology. During the litigation, Micron sent an email to a number of individuals, which included many professors at the University of Illinois in the engineering department. A part of the email stated that "[b]ecause Micron remains a defendant in a patent infringement lawsuit that UIUC filed against Micron in Federal court in Illinois on December 5, 2011, effective immediately, Micron will no longer recruit UIUC students for open positions at any of Micron's world-wide facilities." The email also stated that Micron will withhold funding from the University by suspending scholarships and professor research.

The University of Illinois moved for an injunction to bar Micron from sending further communications that it characterized as harassing and meant to coerce it into settling its patent litigation lawsuit. Micron asserted that the motion should be denied and that the University should be sanctioned for filing the motion.

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Carnegie Mellon v. Marvell: After a $1 Billion Damage Award, Marvell Loses Motion to Compel Documents for Its Laches Defense Because It Waited Too Long to File and the Court Would Not Entertain Such "Wild Goose Chases" at This Late Juncture

March 18, 2013

Carnegie Mellon University ("CMU") filed a patent infringement action against Marvell asserting that Marvell had infringed two of its patents. Two months after the jury returned a verdict in excess of $1 Billion, Marvell filed a motion to compel certain documents based on entries on CMU's privilege log that it wanted to use in its laches defense. CMU objected that there was no good cause for the untimely discovery of privileged materials.

As explained by the district court, "Marvell requested that laches be presented to the jury on an advisory basis, and given the parties' argument on same during the pretrial conference, the Court ordered further briefing on the issues in their trial briefs on November 20, 2012. (Docket Nos. 637, 645, at 54-56; 648 at 192, 230-31). On November 28, 2012, the Court held that as Marvell had not proffered specific evidence to demonstrate when CMU first became aware of Marvell's infringement or what evidentiary or economic prejudice Marvell had allegedly sustained due to CMU's alleged delays tot hat point, the issue was not appropriately 'teed up' for a decision by an advisory jury and would be decided by the Court in a subsequent proceeding."

Continue reading "Carnegie Mellon v. Marvell: After a $1 Billion Damage Award, Marvell Loses Motion to Compel Documents for Its Laches Defense Because It Waited Too Long to File and the Court Would Not Entertain Such "Wild Goose Chases" at This Late Juncture" »