Michael Madison, Pitt Law Alum Weigh in on CMU Patent Case

Pitt Law Professor and Innovation Practice Institute Faculty Director Michael Madison commented on the unusual nature of lawsuits like the one Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) filed against Marvell Technology Group Ltd. The suit alleged the Bermuda-based company infringed on two patents CMU holds for noise-detection technology in computer hard drives. A federal jury last week awarded CMU $1.17 billion, the largest standing verdict in a technology patent case according to observers. “CMU isn‘t the first university to sue to enforce one of its patents. Pitt did the same thing last year,” Madison said. “But it‘s a relatively new phenomenon. Most universities prefer to license their patents but leave the lawsuits to others.”

The number of patent lawsuits filed in the United States has increased in recent years, something Q. Todd Dickinson, ’77, attributes to the increase in the number of patents granted. Currently executive director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), Dickinson formerly directed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The AIPLA’s most recent annual survey indicates the cost of lawsuits doubled between 2001 and 2009, with an average cost of $3 million per side by the time cases involving claims of $25 million or more went to trial.

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