Judge Upholds $234M Award to WARF in Apple Patent Case

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected Apple’s request to overturn a jury’s finding that the company must pay $234 million in damages to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) for infringing on a patent held by the foundation, according to a statement from WARF and multiple news reports.

WARF manages patents and licensing of intellectual property for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The organization sued Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in early 2014, claiming the company incorporated patented technology into microprocessors that power some Apple-made devices, including iPhones and iPads. In October 2015, a federal jury determined the patent in question was valid, and awarded WARF more than $234 million.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Conley denied Apple’s bid to reverse the jury’s findings from 2015, according to a report on the legal website Law360. He also reportedly rejected a request from the company to lower the amount of the award, as well as Apple’s request for a new trial.

Meanwhile, WARF had filed a post-trial motion for Conley to revisit his ruling that Apple’s infringement wasn’t willful, Reuters reported. On those grounds, WARF reportedly sought to have the judge triple the award, to more than $700 million. However, the judge denied WARF’s motion, according to the Reuters report.

In a statement, WARF said it anticipates that Apple may appeal the decision. If Apple does so, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. would hear the appeal, WARF said.

“WARF is reviewing the ruling,” said Jeanan Yasiri Moe, the organization’s director of strategic communications. “WARF will continue to defend the work of the university researchers and WARF’s patent in this case should Apple file an appeal.”

The technology in the patent that WARF claims Apple infringed on makes processors run faster by having them execute commands out of order, and extends the battery life of mobile devices. The technology that led to the patent, which was issued in 1998, was developed by a UW-Madison computer sciences professor and three graduate students.

Last year, a federal jury ordered Apple to pay $625 million in damages after the jury found that the company willfully infringed on four patents held by VirnetX, a company that develops security technology.

Apple has also found itself on the other side of patent disputes, having sued electronics giant Samsung over smartphone technology. In 2015, after a court battle that played out over several years, Samsung agreed to pay Apple $548 million in damages.

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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