Apple Ordered to Pay $234M in UW-Madison Patent Infringement Case

Apple has been ordered to pay $234.2 million in damages for infringing on a patent held by the foundation that manages intellectual property for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Reuters reported Friday. The amount the jury settled on is less than the $400 million the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) was seeking.

The verdict was returned after about three hours of deliberation.

“The hard work of our university researchers and the integrity of patenting and licensing discoveries has prevailed,” WARF managing director Carl Gulbrandsen said in a press release. “This decision is great news for the inventors, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and for WARF.”

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) spokeswoman Rachel Tulley said the company plans to appeal the ruling, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. That would move the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.

WARF sued Apple in February 2014, claiming the tech giant incorporated patented technology into microprocessors that power some older iPhones and iPads. The technology extends battery life and makes processors run faster by having them execute commands out of order, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last year.

Earlier this week, another report from Reuters said Apple could have to pay WARF up to $862 million after the Madison jury determined the patent was valid. However, on Monday WARF said it was no longer seeking damages covering the period before it filed suit, the Journal Sentinel reported. That brought the amount sought by WARF down to $400 million.

On Thursday, U.S. District judge William Conley ruled that Apple’s infringement wasn’t willful, according to the State Journal report. That saved Apple from potentially having to pay “triple damages,” a statute that allows a court to award a plaintiff three times the amount of actual financial damages.

In the lawsuit, WARF explained it took legal action against Apple because the company said it has a policy of not licensing outside technologies.

The foundation is separately suing Apple over newer chips it uses in the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPad Pro.

In the press release, WARF general counsel Michael Falk said patents provide a valuable means of shielding intellectual property.

“The University of Wisconsin has a long history of creative innovation across many fields,” Falk said.  “It is important to faculty and to the UW that patented, innovative technologies developed on campus are protected from unauthorized use.”

The technology in question was developed by UW-Madison computer sciences professor Gurindar Sohi, who attended some of this week’s court proceedings, and three graduate students. The patent was issued in 1998 and will expire in December 2016.

“We believed our technology was ahead of its time,” Sohi said in the release. “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.”

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

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