College News

Supreme Court denies UW-Madison appeal in patent battle with Apple

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which hoped to reestablish a legal victory ordering Apple to pay $506 million in damages for patent infringement. 

Image By: Kalli Anderson

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal Monday by UW-Madison’s patent licensing arm to reestablish a legal victory against Apple in a dispute over computer processor technology.

Apple was ordered to pay $506 million in damages in 2015 before a lower court threw out the payments three years later, Reuters reported. 

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation filed the original suit in 2014, alleging infringement on the 1998 patent of a “predictor circuit” that helps speed up how processors handle instructions for computer programs, according to Reuters. UW computer science professor Gurindar Sohi and three students developed the patent. 

The suit claimed Apple used the university’s technology in processors for the iPhone 5S, 6 and 6 Plus, as well as in several versions of the iPad, The Hill reported. Apple responded by saying its processors functioned differently compared to the specific language in WARF’s patent.

A federal jury in Madison ordered Apple pay $234 million in damages in 2015, according to The Hill. Because of continued infringement through the December 2016 patent expiration, the damages were raised to $506 million.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit — a specialized patent court in Washington — overturned the 2015 verdict last year due to the “plain and ordinary” meaning of the patent preventing Apple from infringing upon it, Reuters reported. 

WARF appealed this decision to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to at least send the case back to the lower court so the organization can present more evidence, according to Reuters. 

The Supreme Court refused to hear this decision, but a WARF spokesperson told The Hill that it will continue pursuing damages from Apple.

“As the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s patenting and licensing arm, WARF has an obligation to diligently protect the intellectual property rights of our UW-Madison partners, and we look forward to continuing to defend those rights in the District Court,” WARF said in a statement.

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