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Apple Loses iPhone Processor Patent Lawsuit

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Apple may have to dip into its $203bn cash pile to pay for infringing university patent

The University of Wisconsin has successfully sued Apple for patent infringement.

The iPhone maker was ruled to have used the university’s microchip technology without permission in certain iPhones and iPads.

Patent Infringement

The patent was filed back in 1998 and is called Table and is based on a data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer. Essentially, it deals with technology built into processors that makes them more energy efficient.

Legal cost patent law dollars money hutterstockThe University of Wisconsin has previously sued Intel and reached an out-of-court settlement back in 2008 over the same patent.

But it seem that Apple has also been using the technology covered in the patent, apparently in its A7 series of chips found in the iPhone 5S, 6, 6 Plus and iPad Mini.

A separate lawsuit is making the same claim for Apple’s latest iPhones, namely the 6S and 6S Plus, which uses its A9 and A9X chips.

The university claimed that Apple had ignored its offers to license the patent, which left little alternative for the university but to sued Apple in January 2014, alleging the iPhone maker was wilfully infringing its patent.

Apple fought the lawsuit and denied any infringement. Earlier in the year, Apple failed to get the US Patent and Trademark Office to rule that the patent was invalid.

A jury in Madison, Wisconsin this week ruled that the patent was valid, and that Apple’s A7, as well as its A8 and A8X processors violated the patent.

Pocket Change

Apple now faces damages of up to $862m (or £560m in real money) according to Reuters, but a final decision on the exact amount has still to be reached.

Apple is not exactly short of cash, as the company remains profitable and is estimated to have at least $203 in cash and equivalents in the bank.

Nevertheless, the case is notable as Apple has frequently clashed with its competitors over patents in recent years, but this time it is on the losing end.

Earlier this week, Apple refreshed its 21.5 inch iMac computer with faster specs and introduced a version that ships with a 4K retina display.

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