Carnegie Mellon v. Marvell: District Court Upholds $1.1 Billion Jury Verdict Against Marvell

Carnegie Mellon University ("CMU") filed a patent infringement action Marvell Technology Group and Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. ("Marvell") that alleged infringement of two CMU patents. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of CMU, finding that Marvell infringed the patents, that the patents were valid and that there was willful infringement. The jury also awarded damages in excess of $1.1 billion.

Marvell filed several post-trial motions, including one for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, for a new trial on damages. Marvell also argued for a mistrial based on certain of CMU's counsel's statements during closing argument and throughout the trial. After reciting the standard for granting a new trial, the district court addressed the specific issues raised by Marvell.

The district court began by noting that "[t]he fundamental duty of counsel in closing arguments is to argue the evidence. 88 C.J.S. TRIAL § 291. Counsel are permitted wide latitude in closing argument to comment and argue on the evidence and draw any reasonable inferences and conclusions from the evidence at trial. See United States v. Hernandez, 306 F. App'x 719, 723 (3d Cir. 2009); see also 75A AM. JUR. 2D TRIAL § 532. They are entitled to expound any theory which is reasonably supported by the evidence, present their interpretations of the evidence, and suggest that the jury draw certain inferences or conclusions from that evidence."

The district court then addressed Marvell's argument regarding CMU's counsel's statements concerning the lack of advice of counsel. "The Court did not allow either party to argue that an opinion of counsel was likely favorable or unfavorable. (Docket No. 759 at 205, 227). Neither party breached this ruling, as CMU only spoke to the lack of an opinion, which was a proper inference from the evidence presented at trial. Telcordia Technologies, Inc. v. Lucent Technologies, Inc., Civ. No. 04-875, 2007 WL 7076662 (D. Del. Apr. 27, 2007) (holding it proper for "the plaintiff to tell the jury that the defendant did not obtain an opinion of counsel [as it] may indicate to the jury that the defendant did not act properly"). It is undisputed, that at closing arguments counsel can and should argue from the evidence and any inference that may be fairly drawn from that evidence. See United States v. Hernandez, 306 F. App'x 719, 723 (3d Cir. 2009); see also 75A AM. JUR. 2D TRIAL § 532."

The district court also noted that "it was Marvell who...

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