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article imageiPhone processors infringe on patents, Apple may face $862m fine

By James Walker     Oct 14, 2015 in Technology
Apple could be fined as much as $862 million for being found guilty of infringing on patents owned by the University of Wisconsin. Several of Apple's recent processor designs used the technology without proper licensing.
UPI reports that the exact amount of damages to be paid has yet to be determined. The university is seeking up to $862.4 million in reparation after Apple infringed on its patents while manufacturing the A7, A8 and A8X processors used in some iPads and the iPhone 5S, 6 and 6 Plus smartphones.
Apple has argued that the patents are not valid but a federal jury in Madison, Wisconsin, today decided otherwise. The lawsuit dates from January 2014 and is already being followed by a second.
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation filed a claim against Apple in September relating to the use of its technology in the new A9 processor in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. The university says it has repetitively approached Apple with offers of official licensing but has found the Cupertino company to be dismissive of the discussions.
In 2008, the university sued Intel for infringement of the same patents. In that instance, the case was settled outside of court but it's unclear whether Apple will decide to take the same course of action.
The technology involved is related to improving the power efficiency of mobile processors, letting them run for longer at lower temperatures while still delivering optimum performance. Apple has argued that it should not be eligible for patenting but failed to convince the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review the grant last year.
For its part, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation was named by Business Insider as "one of the most fearsome patent trolls" in 2012. The foundation aggressively pursues any infringement of its patented works, many of which are held with no practical usage.
U.S. District Judge William Conley has said Apple's trial should now proceed in three phases, starting with a liability assessment. Damages will then be worked out but could be raised later if Apple is found to have wilfully infringed on the University's patents.
Apple is already caught up in several other patent infringement cases. A $533 million filing by Texas-based Smartflash is currently held on appeal while its ongoing battle with rival Samsung was recently torn apart as one of the company's own patents was ruled invalid. Apple had been seeking $1 billion from Samsung, enough to cover damages to the University of Wisconsin, but that now stands at $547 million, a figure that could be cut even further.
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