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U. of Wisconsin Wins Big Against Apple in Patent Litigation, Returns for More

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. | Last updated on

The University of Wisconsin's Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) convinced a federal jury in the Seventh Circuit yesterday that Apple had infringed on one of its processor patents. The iPhone maker is said to have infringed upon the WARF patent in the A7, A8, and A8X processors that are used heavily in 2013-14 iPads and iPhones.

Now that it has been established that Apple infringed on U of W's patent, the only matter left to be determined are damages. So far, the number that is being bandied about the Internet is a cool $862.4 million. A mere bagatelle considering Apple's coffers.

A History of Protecting University Patents

This isn't the first time WARF has brought claims on behalf of the University. In 2008, WARF sued Intel, claiming that the companies Core 2 Duo processor infringed on the school's patent because the processor design similarly partioned commands into separate lines for more efficient processing, allowing the computing unit to "best guess" instruction processing --cutting down CPU time. WARF allegedly tried to license the technology to Intel in 2001, but the company said no thanks. The suit eventually ended in settlement.

WARF's patent

WARF was originally founded in 1925 and has been the vanguard of the research patents of the University of Wisconsin during all that time. The organization regularly licenses its patents to commercial and private entities. The patent held by the university covers a way of improving chip processor efficiency and is entitled "Table based data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer." The paper lists several University of Wisconsin researchers as its inventors.

It Could Get Worse for Apple

The jury has determined that Apple infringed on the patent with its A7/A8 technology, but it still remains to be determined the level of willfulness on Apple's part. That is to say, after the $862 million number is confirmed, another phase will determine if Apple intentionally infringed on the patent, potentially opening Apple to even more financial hurt.

Not You Again ... !

WARF has filed a second complaint against Apple, alleging that the giant Cupertino monolith of further infringement of the same patent in question in its current line-up of iPhone 6s, 6S, and iPads.

I'm reminded of a quote historian James Burke used to paraphrase Arab pirates in 700 A.D. as they pillaged their booty from their victim's vessels: "Open your wallet and repeat after me: 'Help yourself.'"

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