Apple Ordered to Pay $234 Million in Patent Infringement Suit

On October 16, 2015, as a result of a District Court case in Wisconsin, Apple was ordered to pay the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the University of Wisconsin-Madison's patent licensing body, more than $234 million in damages for incorporating WARF’s “Table Based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer” technology into some of their iPhones and iPads.

WARF asserted that Apple's A7, A8 and A8X processors, found in the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus, as well as several versions of the iPad, infringed claims 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 9 of U.S. Patent 5,781,752 (‘752 Patent). The ‘752 Patent, issued on July 14, 1998, claims to significantly improve the efficiency and speed of computer processing by “provid[ing] a predictor circuit that may identify data dependencies on an on-going or dynamic basis.” This “predictor circuit” reduces inaccuracies in parallel processing by determining whether a process should be executed or delayed based on the history of mis-speculations for that instruction.

In a statement released October 16, 2015, Professor Gurindar Sohi, one of the inventors, said “We believed our technology was ahead of its time. Almost two decades ago we tried to anticipate how computers would need to operate today. Our team invested the equivalent of more than 11 years of work to solve this problem."

On October 13, after six hours of deliberation, the jury found that WARF had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that Apple had infringed the asserted claims and that Apple had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the same claims were invalid.

In the second phase of the trial, Apple argued that they should owe seven cents per device that included the technology, or approximately $10 million. WARF, on the other hand, argued that Apple owed $2.74 per accused device, or roughly $400 million. After hearing the arguments from both sides, the jury ultimately awarded WARF $234 million.

In a separate ruling, U.S. District Judge William Conley, who presided over the case, held that Apple had not willfully infringed WARF's patent, eliminating a chance to triple the damage award. Apple raised a reasonable defense in the case, Conley said, and WARF "has failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that Apple acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent."

Last month, WARF launched a second lawsuit against Apple, this time targeting the company's newest chips (the A9 and A9X), used in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and iPad Pro.

The case is Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation v. Apple Inc., U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, No. 14-cv-62.

The October 16, 2015, WARF statement can be found here.

Apple A8 Processor image courtesy of Henriok available here.

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