Apple loses big in drawn-out Wisconsin patent clash, having to pay $500 million+ to a university

Apple doesn’t lose patent-related court battles very often, but ironically, those that manage to defeat the Cupertino-based tech giant in intellectual property infringement cases from time to time are little-known companies and… universities rather than top industry rivals.

What does an educational institution have to do with the technology built into iPhones and iPads? Quite a lot, according to US District Judge William Conley in Madison, Wisconsin, who found the world’s most profitable smartphone manufacturer guilty of violating a computer processor patent granted to a University of Wisconsin professor and three students way back in 1998.

As it turns out, UW-Madison researchers “generate hundreds of new inventions every year”, which are patented and licensed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) to provide “income for inventors and money for future research.”

Apple was already ruled in breach of the WARF-owned “invention” envisioning a “predictor circuit” helping processors anticipate commands given by a user to a generic “system” a couple of years ago, with the initial $234 million jury-awarded compensation however boosted to a whopping $506 million now.

Conley justified this inflated verdict by arguing the infringement continued until the end of 2016, warranting additional damages and interest for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s patent licensing department.

The decision is still open to appeal, after which a separate matter involving the same patent but newer A-series SoCs than the A7, A8 and A8X will be deliberated. In other words, Apple could end up spending even more than half a billion dollars in reparations to a school.

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About The Author
Adrian Diaconescu
Adrian has had an insatiable passion for writing since he was in school and found himself writing philosophical essays about the meaning of life and the differences between light and dark beer. Later, he realized this was pretty much his only marketable skill, so he first created a personal blog (in Romanian) and then discovered his true calling, which is writing about all things tech (in English).