Apple faces paying University of Wisconsin $682.4 million after losing processor patent lawsuit

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Apple may be no stranger to patent lawsuits, but a recent infringement claim ruling could cost the company dearly. On Tuesday, a US jury found that the iPhone maker had used technology owned by the University of Wisconsin’s Alumni Research Foundation, or WARF, without permission.

WARF took Apple to court at the start of 2014 alleging that the Cupertino-based company infringed upon its 1998 patent for improving chip efficiency in its A7, A8 and A8X processors. Apple uses the chips in its iPhone 5S, 6, and 6 Plus, as well as in several iPad models.

Apple denied the infringement and tried to argue that the patent is invalid. It had asked the US Patent and Trademark Office review the case, but in April the agency decided not to take any action. Following the jury’s siding with WARF, the trial will now go through three more stages: liability, damages, and whether Apple infringed the patent willfully.

Presiding US District Judge William Conley said that Apple could be liable for up to $682.4 million in damages. A figure that could rise if the final stage of the trial finds Apple did willfully infringe upon WARF’s patent.

Apple isn’t the first tech giant that WARF has gone after for allegedly using its technology without permission; it sued Intel using the same patent infringement argument in 2008, but the case was settled the following year before it went to trial.

Even if WARF does get the full $682 million from Apple, it still won't be finished with the company; WARF launched a second patent infringement lawsuit against Apple last month, this one targeting the A9 and A9X processors used in the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus and iPad Pro.

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ikesmasher

TS Evangelist
The whole patent thing is becoming rediculous and it's not just software anymore. I think patents should expire if the holder shows no intent of actually using the patent or at least selling it. they are being a hindrance to progress at this point.
 
The whole patent thing is becoming rediculous and it's not just software anymore. I think patents should expire if the holder shows no intent of actually using the patent or at least selling it. they are being a hindrance to progress at this point.
This, 100%. I am totally Apple, and the patent wars they help perpetuate. But, at some point there needs to be a better way. There are millions of patents for generic, stupid crap. And companies patent 'ideas' just so they can sue someone that actually innovates whatever tech/process/etc.
 

psycros

TS Evangelist
The whole patent thing is becoming rediculous and it's not just software anymore. I think patents should expire if the holder shows no intent of actually using the patent or at least selling it. they are being a hindrance to progress at this point.
I think four years after finalization of a patent is a good deadline for implementation. After that you have six months to sell it or the technology becomes public domain. Of course the government would be more likely to pass a law allowing *it* to take possession of the patent which it would then auction off for big bucks. That's the biggest problem with patent reform - everyone involved will try to make sure it benefits their own interests the most.
 
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9Nails

TechSpot Paladin
What I find surprising, isn't just that Apple got bit by a patent troll, but that the patent in question is from 1998!? If some Apple spokes-person told us that, in the very latest hardware design for the new iPhone, is 14 year old efficiency technology... I would look at them as if they had two heads.

In 1998, I was busy complaining about Intel's expensive Slot1 / Pentium 2 processors.

I have no idea whats in the patent, but it has to be vague to still cover today's chips.
 

Badvok

TS Evangelist
What I find surprising, isn't just that Apple got bit by a patent troll, but that the patent in question is from 1998!? If some Apple spokes-person told us that, in the very latest hardware design for the new iPhone, is 14 year old efficiency technology... I would look at them as if they had two heads.

In 1998, I was busy complaining about Intel's expensive Slot1 / Pentium 2 processors.

I have no idea whats in the patent, but it has to be vague to still cover today's chips.
Not at all vague, it deals with out-of-order execution of instructions in processors which is something ALL modern processors do. Guess Apple just didn't want/bother to license it.

Of course these kinds of software/method patents are nonsense anyway but that's the world we live in.
 

Kevin82485

TS Booster
What I find surprising, isn't just that Apple got bit by a patent troll, but that the patent in question is from 1998!? If some Apple spokes-person told us that, in the very latest hardware design for the new iPhone, is 14 year old efficiency technology... I would look at them as if they had two heads.

In 1998, I was busy complaining about Intel's expensive Slot1 / Pentium 2 processors.

I have no idea whats in the patent, but it has to be vague to still cover today's chips.
WARF serves the University of Wisconsin which discovered a way to improve processors and patented it. If companies want to use it, WARF will gladly license it to them for a price. They aren't sitting on patents looking for companies to sue. They have a right to be compensated for their discovery and also so that they can continue to fund their research in many different fields. WARF's portfolio in not just with information technology and semiconductors but also with areas such as agriculture, renewable energy, and medicine.
 
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