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Lawyers arguing over CMU's $1.17B patent verdict

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Attorneys for Carnegie Mellon University and a California firm were arguing whether a federal judge should reduce or increase a jury's $1.17 billion patent infringement verdict in favor of the school.

The Pittsburgh-based university had argued that Marvell Technology Group infringed on patents that came from the work of professor Jose Moura and then-student Alek Kavcic.

In December, a jury awarded the school more than $1 billion based on a royalty of 50 cents per semiconductor chip produced using the technology. More than 2 billion chips were produced.

Marvell's attorneys want the award reduced under a law that allows judges to do so if a jury returns a verdict that "shocks the conscience."

The verdict wasn't out of line, university attorney Patrick McElhinny said Wednesday, in the first day of a two-day motions hearing on the verdict.

Although $1.17 billion is a "big number," McElhinny argued, Marvell, of Santa Clara, Calif., would still reap a $4 billion profit on the chips even if it paid the entire award.

"That's not a shocking result when you put it in context," McElhinny told U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer. In fact, CMU's attorneys want the judge to triple the verdict on the grounds that Marvell's behavior was "willful."

But one of Marvell's attorneys, Kathleen Sullivan, argued that the royalty figure used to calculate the verdict, as well as the number of chips themselves, are out of whack. She wants the judge to recalculate the verdict based only the number of foreign-made chips used in the United States, where the patent held sway, which Sullivan said was about 329 million. And, Sullivan argued, the royalty should be about 3 cents per chip, which would result in a verdict of just $9.9 million.

The attorneys were continuing to argue other post-trial motions Thursday.

Fischer has said she expects the parties to move the case to a federal appeals court no matter how she rules.