Purdue wins $32.5M in patent-infringement lawsuit

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A Texas jury this week awarded Purdue University $32.5 million in damages in its patent infringement lawsuit against an international microelectronics company.

The dispute dates to July 2021, when Purdue’s board of trustees filed suit against Netherlands-based STMicroelectronics N.V. and its U.S. subsidiary, STMicroelectronics Inc., which is based in the Dallas suburb of Coppell, Texas.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, accused STMicroelectronics of making and selling products that infringe on Purdue’s patent for a technology related to semiconductor devices used in high-voltage power applications.

“Winning this case is a great victory for Purdue,” Purdue Research Foundation President Brian Edelman said in a written statement released by the university on Tuesday. “As the university’s tech transfer and commercialization arm, we take managing and protecting Purdue intellectual property very seriously, and we hold ourselves and others accountable to the highest standards.”

In investor materials, STMicroelectronics describes itself as one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies, with more than 50,000 employees around the world, $16.1 billion in 2022 revenue and a customer list that includes Apple, Samsung, SpaceX and Tesla.

Purdue’s complaint centers on silicon carbide semiconductors that use patented technology invented by James Cooper, a professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue, and his then-graduate student and postdoctoral researcher Asmita Saha.

The technology, which relates to semiconductor devices used in high-voltage power applications, secured patent protection in 2006.  In the lawsuit Purdue refers to the patent as the ‘633 patent, using an abbreviated version of the full patent number.

Purdue accused STMicroelectronics of making and selling products that infringe on the patent.

A jury ultimately agreed with Purdue, and on Monday jurors awarded Purdue $32.5 million in past compensatory damages, plus a running royalty on future sales.

STMicroelectronics told IBJ via email that it disagrees with the jury’s verdict and plans to file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals.

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