Apple faces sales ban of iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook Air in CALTECH Wi-Fi patent lawsuit

“Another day, another lawsuit,” Carly Page reports for The Inquirer. “The latest legal face-off sees the California Institute of Technology (CALTECH) gunning for Apple for allegedly violating four WiFi-related patents.”

“‘Apple manufactures, uses, imports, offers for sale and/or sells WiFi products that incorporate IRA/LDPC encoders and/or decoders and infringe the asserted patents,’ the university said,” Page reports. “CALTECH claimed that Apple knowingly used and advertised gains from patented WiFi technology in almost all of its major products starting from the iPhone 5.”

“The institute is seeking a ban on all of the products named in the lawsuit,” Page reports. “This includes the iPhone, MacBook Air, iPad Pro and Apple Watch.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Now there’s a sales ban that’ll never happen.


  1. From the source article at Patently Apple, entitled The California Institute of Technology Sues Apple over Wi-Fi Technology:

    In this lawsuit, Apple is drawn in by virtue of using Broadcom Wi-Fi products. This week AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule were pulled from U.S. Apple Stores. Whether this is due to next-gen versions of these product arriving next month or complications related to this lawsuit is unknown at this time.

    IOW: Blame Broadcom. Apple get’s top billing only because Apple is the big fat company everyone wants to sue. But it’s Broadcom who is the core lawsuit.

    AND: What if Apple pulled their Wi-Fi routers specifically because they contains the contended Broadcom chips? That would not be good. No no no.

    1. So you want to know more?

      The formal complaint states in-part that “Broadcom manufactures, uses, imports, offers for sale, and/or sells Wi-Fi products that incorporate IRA/LDPC encoders and/or decoders and infringe the Asserted Patents. Broadcom products that incorporate IRA/LDPC encoders and/or decoders and infringe the Asserted Patents include, but are not limited to, the Wi-Fi products listed in Appendix 1 (“Broadcom Accused Products”).

      Broadcom’s sales and marketing materials confirm that these products use LDPC codes and are compliant with the 802.11n and/or 802.11ac standards. For example, Broadcom’s materials state that its BCM4350 ‘5G WiFi 802.11ac Client,’ which upon information and belief is incorporated in the Apple iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, features ‘802.11ac-compliant . . . low-density parity check codes (LDPC).'”

      If this goes forward, any company using the contended Broadcom chips is going to be sued. Again: Apple is specifically listed in the lawsuit simply because they’re the biggest company that bought the Broadcom chips.

      Did I say Broadcom enough times?

      1. I agree with you. Unfortunately, it still sucks for apple because complicit or not, knowingly or not, Apple can no longer use Broadcom chips in their hardware. Even if they are found not liable for everything sold prior, releasing a new iPhone, or Macs WITH the contended chips and the knowledge they now have is a legal battle Apple could do without. Now, I’m hoping apple doesn’t have warehouses stocked to the roof decks with new products with the Broadcom chips because they won’t be able to sell them and will probably have to tear them down and replace said chips.

        1. Apple will have recourse, if Broadcom lose the lawsuit, of forcing Broadcom to reimburse Apple for the chips in question.

          Meanwhile, I don’t know the alternatives to Broadcom at this time. I expect Apple is busy figuring that out.

          Meanwhile, here’s an interesting rumor from March that seems to fit right in:

          Rumor: Broadcom Phasing Out Wi-Fi Chip Business

          Broadcom is looking to phase out its Wi-Fi chip business in a move to streamline its workforce and product offerings following its acquisition by Avago Technologies.

          Oh! So Broadcom was bought out! Another twist in the knot.

          … Companies such as MediaTek, Realtek Semiconductor and RDA Microelectronics have already received a pull-in of short lead-time orders from Broadcom’s customers in the Wi-Fi sector

          Aha! There we have a few alternatives for Apple to ponder.

    2. First, like Derek said, Broadcom is the licensee, and AAPL is the component purchaser. Broadcom has the duty to do due diligence in conformity to licensing requirements from the patent holder.
      Second, just like the myriad lawsuits Apple gets peppered with, say for 4G chip radiosets, conformity with FRAND terms of licensing for essential features like 4G, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc, is key for the license holder to put their product on the marketplace for licensure:

      FRAND is a legal term that stands for “Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory” and is typically used to describe patent licensing terms. It is normal for companies to have to agree to licensing a patent in FRAND terms before it will be accepted to become part of a standards body approved technical standard.

      This means that Stanford’s legal team agreed to FRAND terms when they put their patent up for licensure / sale. No take backs, Leland!


  2. The algorithms for LDPC, the mathematical implementations, and countless implementations have been out there since the mid 60s. I’d be surprised if this patent (and related patents) cannot be broken. It’s just one more case of the USPTO issuing patents without a thorough enough prior art search. The examiners are just too overloaded and approve patents then expect the courts to sort it all out.

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