Apple Loses University of Wisconsin Patent Lawsuit, Faces $862M Fine

A decision by a jury in Wisconsin could leave Apple on the hook for up to $862 million in damages related to a patent dispute with the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). Filed last year, WARF's lawsuit contends that Apple's use of certain processors in some of its iPhones and iPads infringes upon technology developed by university researchers in 1996.

The jury in U.S. District Court in Madison, Wisconsin, yesterday found that WARF's patent for microprocessor technology -- U.S. Patent No. 5,781,752 -- is valid, and that Apple has used that technology in many of its devices without the university's permission. In the next phase of the trial, the court will determine the exact amount of damages Apple might face. WARF is seeking an award of up to $862.4 million, according to court documents.

WARF claims that Apple is using university-developed technology in its A7, A8 and A8X system-on-a-chip processing units. Those processors are used in the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus; the iPad Air and Air 2; the iPad mini 2, 3 and 4; the sixth-generation iPod Touch; and the fourth-generation Apple TV.

'A Major Milestone' in Microprocessing

An Apple spokesperson told us today that the company declined to comment on the court decision. A WARF representative did not respond to our request for comment.

The technology described in U.S. Patent No. 5,781,752 -- the "752 patent," as it is referred to in the lawsuit -- was developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers Andreas Moshovos, Scott Breach, Terani Vijaykumar and Girundar Sohi. Described as a "table based data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer," the technology has been "recognized by those in the art as a major milestone in the field of computer microprocessing," according to the WARF lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that Apple has cited the 752 patent,...

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