Jury: Apple Used Patented Tech in iPhone, Could Owe $862 Million

Apple Used Patented Tech

Apple could face a stiff penalty after a jury found it violated patent laws by using certain technology in its iPhones.

A jury in a U.S. District Court in Madison, Wisconsin, has ruled against Apple in a patent infringement case filed in February 2014 by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) regarding patent 5,781,752.

Apple is facing up to $862 million in damages, as the jury found Apple used patented tech owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s licensing arm without permission.

The jury said Apple infringed on all six asserted patent claims, while it dismissed Apple’s attempt to prove patent invalidity. The judge has ordered the trial to move on to three phases: liability, damages, and whether the infringement of the patent by Apple was willful.

As part of the complaint, WARF stated Apple filed patent applications that cite patent 5,781,752 as prior art, indicating the company might have been aware of the patent. WARF also says Apple has a policy of not accepting licensing proposals, which made the lawsuit inevitable.

At the time of the original filing, only the iPhone 5S, the iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina Display, all using Apple’s newest A7 processor,  were part of the suit. But the A8 and A8X processors as well as the A9 and A9X chips in the new iPhone 6S, 6S Plus and iPad Pro now also use the patented technology. This resulted in a second suit filed by WARF last month.

The patent was filed in December 26, 1996, and granted in July 14, 1998.  It is for a table-based data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer. Its purpose is to improve power efficiency and performance in modern computer processor designs using a data speculation circuit, also known as a branch predictor.

And the Apple suit wasn’t the first filed over this very same patent. Intel settled out of court in 2009 after using the technology in the Intel Core 2 Duo processor and other microprocessors.

Patent infringement in the tech industry is very common, Apple and Samsung have been going at it for years. This suit and many others like it highlight the importance of getting a licensing agreement before using someone’s intellectual property. Had Apple looked at the prior settlement from Intel, maybe it wouldn’t be facing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

UPDATE: A jury has since ordered Apple to pay $234 million to the University of Wisconsin, much less than the maximum initially projected.

Jury Box Photo via Shutterstock


Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.

5 Reactions
  1. Are you serious with this? Not only is this news from last week, but the penalty has been decided and reported as being $234M, so you’re not even reporting the full story. If you’re going to post link bait, at least get the readily available facts correct.

  2. The troubles of patent information. I guess they are quite lucky that Apple decided to use it for they got some money out of it.

  3. I suspect such infringement cases still persist since the companies at fault actually do make quite a good sum of money even when they pay fines. Maybe there needs to be a re-think of a more progressive policy to combat such issues.

    • Hi Victor,
      You are right, the economics doesn’t really discourage companies from not violating intellectual property laws, especial when you consider Apple’s profit margin on its smartphones.