Apple loses patent lawsuit to University of Wisconsin, faces up to $862 million in damages

“Apple Inc. could be facing up to $862 million in damages after a U.S. jury on Tuesday found that the iPhone maker used technology owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s licensing arm without permission in chips found in many of its most popular devices,” Andrew Chung reports for Reuters.

“The jury in Madison, Wisconsin also said the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s patent, which improves processor efficiency, was valid,” Chung reports. “The trial will now move on to determine how much Apple owes in damages.”

“The jury was considering whether Apple’s A7, A8 and A8X processors, found in the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus, as well as several versions of the iPad, violate the patent,” Chung reports. “Last month, WARF launched a second lawsuit against Apple, this time targeting the company’s newest chips, the A9 and A9X, used in the just-released iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, as well as the iPad Pro.”

Read more in the full article here.

“Trial proceedings began on Oct. 5, over a year and a half after WARF first filed its complaint against Apple with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in early 2014. In its case, WARF asserts Apple incorporated patented computer microarchitecture into the A7 system-on-chip design, a component used in numerous iOS devices,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider. “”As the University of Wisconsin’s non-profit patent management body, WARF patents and licenses inventions developed at the institution, with proceeds gained put toward future research projects.”

“The initial complaint named A7 and all the products it powered at the time, a list that included iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and iPad Mini with Retina display. Apple subsequently incorporated the chip into iPad mini 3 models,” Campbell reports. “Apple introduced its dual-core, ARM-based A7 chip with iPhone 5s in 2013 as the world’s first consumer ready 64-bit mobile processor. The chip also included an embedded secure enclave that stores operational data for iPhone 5s and iPad mini 3 Touch ID fingerprint systems.”

Campbell reports, “WARF leveraged the same patent against Intel’s Core 2 Duo CPU in 2008, a case settled out of court in 2009 for an undisclosed sum, according to a 2014 report from The Register.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: $862 million is not an insignificant amount (to anyone but Apple Inc.). We’ll keep an eye on this case as it winds through the “system” to see how juries outside of Madison, Wisconsin regard this Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation patent.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz,” “Jeff.L,” and “Edward W.” for the heads up.]


  1. Don’t worry Apple, with they court systems as it is, worse case scenario you will pay only a fraction of that just like samsung had a reduced sum courtesy of judge Lucy.

    1. Since the damages will be determined by units sold, I would figure the amount would continue to increase the longer it stays in court and Apple doesn’t just license the tech.

      1. If the resulting ruling would result in a fine based on Apple sales in Wisconsin, I’d suggest that Apple witdraw from the Wisconsin market (or at least from third party stores). People will find ways to obtain iPhones/iPads, but without benefiting Wisconsin’s bottom line.

  2. Sadly this is Apple (and most big firms) today.
    Just take people’s patents safe in the knowledge that the benefits will outweigh the legal costs.
    And build everything in communist countries that trample REAL human rights.

  3. Well, I’m sure there wasn’t any bias by these hilljacks from Madison, Wisconsin. And of course those cow milkers were knowledgeable in this type of technology.

    1. Yeah, them dang cow milkers, actin’ like meat packers!!!

      (Of course, Apple could cut U of Maddy a check, they just hand it over to the SEIU and take Walker out next election…:-)

  4. Any University of Wisconsin alumni out there, next time they contact you asking for donations, you don’t need to bother. They are getting plenty from Apple and Intel. They don’t really need it anymore.
    There are plenty of other worthy organizations out there that are in real need of your money.

  5. Apple will probably file their appeal as soon as possible, with a long list of arguments.

    At the same time Apple may well enter mediation where they offer $100 Million for all past and future use of the intellectual property, including any enhancements to it, They might even toss in a bit of technical goodies that allows the University to improve their technology, or a lot pf Macs for teaching and research.

  6. Patent is from 1998. I think it’s a sleeper and was dusted off, to dig gold. What process from 1998 could be applicable today, that hasn’t been used by everyone? We are talking about 16 years ago. (Improving Chip Efficiency) I think the USPO should invalidate it, on the condition that it very well may be an obvious process, such as materials and processes needed to reach 16nm and lower. Just because they are a NPO University, does not mean that they are immune from IP tom-foolery.

    1. My thoughts also.

      IMO, when patents are granted (in the computer/digital realm), due to the speed of technological advancement, patent holders should have a limit of five years to bring it market or license it to some company that will within that time period.

      It makes no sense to allow such patents to be sat on collecting duct for nearly two decades.

  7. I decided to do some digging into the actual technology in contention. Here are some odds and ends:

    WARF v. Apple

    On July 14, 1998, the United States Patent and Trademark Office duly and legally issued United States Patent No. 5,781,752 (hereinafter “the ‘752 patent”) entitled “Table Based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer” to….

    …the ’752 patent discloses a “predictor circuit [that] permits advanced execution of instructions depending for their data on previous instructions by predicting such dependencies based on previous mis-speculations . . . .”

    …Since the issuance of the ’752 patent, Apple has filed one or more patent applications that cite the ’752 patent as relevant prior art….

    Apple has stated that it is the policy of the company not to accept or consider proposals regarding licensing from outside entities like WARF for any purpose, making the initiation of this lawsuit a necessity….

    WARF is informed and believes, and on this basis alleges, that Defendant has been, and currently is, making, using, selling, offering to sell, importing and/or exporting processors that infringe claims of the ’752 patent, including the Apple A7 processor.

    The actual patent can be read here:

    United States Patent 5,781,752 – Moshovos , et al. July 14, 1998


    A predictor circuit permits advanced execution of instructions depending for their data on previous instructions by predicting such dependencies based on previous mis-speculations detected at the final stages of processing. Synchronization of dependent instructions is provided by a table creating entries for each instance of potential dependency. Table entries are created and deleted dynamically to limit total memory requirements.

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