iPhone, iPad chip patent defeat leaves Apple facing huge bill

Apple could be looking at damages of up to $862m, after a jury finds it has violated a patent held by the University of Wisconsin.

The chips inside Apple's iPad and iPhone violate a patent belonging to the University of Wisconsin. Image: ZDNet

Apple could owe the University of Wisconsin up to $862m in damages after a jury found it violated a patent covering processors found in the iPhone and iPad.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) filed the suit on behalf of the university last year, claiming that Apple had failed to license its patent, which improves processor efficiency, in the A7, A8, and A8X processors used by the iPhone and iPad.

The Cupertino company in court papers denied infringing the patent and argued it was invalid.

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A jury in Madison, Wisconsin, decided against Apple on both counts, according to Reuters, and the trial will now move to determine how much Apple owes in damages.

A recent ruling by the same judge presiding over the case suggests Apple could be liable for up to $862.4m in damages, the report noted.

The trouble for Apple may not end there either, with WARF having filed a second suit last month over the A9 and A9X chips in the new iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, and iPad Pro.

The US patent in question, number 5,781,752, was granted in 1998 and describes a "table-based data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer".

WARF, the patent arm of the university, sued Intel over the same patent in 2008, after claiming to have tried to get Intel to license its technology in 2001. The suit was settled out of court.

Before that, it also sued Sony over the chip in its PlayStation 2 console.

Apple is no stranger to patent lawsuits targeting its software and hardware. A jury in Texas in February ordered Apple to pay $533 million to Texas-based non-practising entity Smartflash over patents covering iTunes and the App Store. Apple said the firm was "exploiting" the US patent system. A month later it dodged a $100m claim in the same court over patents once held by Nokia.

Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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