Apple Could Pay $862M in UW-Madison Patent Infringement Case

Apple could face up to $862.4 million in damages after a ruling from a jury in U.S. District Court Tuesday found the company infringed on a patent held by a foundation that manages intellectual property for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Reuters reported.

The Madison jury ruled Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) had incorporated technology patented by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) into microprocessors that powered the company’s 2013 and 2014 iPhone and iPad product lines. The technology makes processors run faster by having them execute commands out of order, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last year.

The court will now determine what amount Apple owes WARF in monetary damages. After that, the court will decide if Apple’s infringement was willful, which could lead to additional penalties.

If the $862.4 million figure holds or grows, it would mean a substantial windfall for WARF, which manages a $2.6 billion endowment. But the damages won’t put much of a dent in Apple’s bottom line. The tech giant generated a $39.5 billion profit on $182.8 billion in sales last year.

Apple is no stranger to patent lawsuits. It has been locked in a battle with rival smartphone maker Samsung for several years, and Apple was among the big tech companies that last year settled a patent lawsuit brought by Boston University.

WARF sued Apple in February 2014, claiming it had violated a patent the foundation was granted in 1998, entitled “Table Based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer.” WARF took microprocessor maker Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) to court in 2008 in a lawsuit involving the same patent. The company and foundation settled the following year for an undisclosed sum, Reuters reported.

In April, Apple attempted to persuade the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review the validity of the patent, but the agency declined to do so. As part of the latest ruling, rendered after seven days of testimony, the jury determined Apple hadn’t proven WARF’s infringement claims to be invalid, Reuters said.

In the lawsuit, WARF explained it took legal action against Apple because it said it has a policy of not licensing technology from other companies, the Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday.

WARF is separately suing Apple over newer chips it uses in the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPad Pro, according to the Reuters report.

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

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