Apple Loses Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit

Riley Conlin, MJLST Staffer

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) won a large patent lawsuit against Apple Inc. The suit relates to WARF’s 1998 patent of a technology that improves microchip efficiency. WARF initiated the suit in January 2014 contending that Apple’s A7, A8 and A8X processors violate the patent. The processors are found in the iPhone 5s, 6, 6 Plus, and many variations of the iPad.

Apple denied that their microchips infringed WARF’s patent and contended that the patent was invalid. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office declined to review the patent’s validity. The jury, sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, concluded that Apple’s processing chips improperly used technology owned by WARF. U.S. District Court Judge William Conley has scheduled to trial in three phases. First, the jury determined whether or not Apple was liable. Second, the jury will determine the appropriate damages. Finally, the jury will consider whether Apple willfully violated the patent, which could lead to additional damages. Based on Conley’s recent ruling, Apple already faces damages reaching potentially $862.4 million.

WARF has initiated lawsuits around this patent before. In 2008, the foundation used that patent to sue Intel Corp. However, that case never made it to trial, because it was settled shortly prior to it beginning.

In September 2015, WARF filed a subsequent lawsuit against Apple. The foundation contends that Apple’s A9 and A9X chips also infringe upon their patent. The A9 and A9X chips can be found in Apple’s more recent technology including the: iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and the iPad Pro.