Apple Asks Appeals Court to Reverse Judgment in WARF Patent Case
Apple has requested that an appeals court reverse or reduce a judgment ordering the company to pay $506 million for infringing on a patent held by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s technology transfer office.
In a brief made public this week, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) says it didn’t infringe on a patent owned by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). The patent relates to technology that Apple incorporated into microprocessors that power some older iPhones and iPads. The technology improves battery life and the efficiency of processors by having them execute commands out of order.
In the brief, which lawyers for Apple filed Oct. 20 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., the company says the case pitting Apple against WARF “was fraught with error at every turn” and that WARF “relied on legally-impermissible evidence that prejudicially inflated” the amount a jury ordered Apple to pay in damages.
WARF sued Apple in 2014, claiming it had violated a patent the foundation was granted in 1998, entitled “Table Based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer.” In October 2015, a federal jury determined the patent in question was valid, and awarded WARF more than $234 million.
In June, U.S. District Judge William Conley denied Apple’s bid to reverse the jury’s findings from 2015. Conley more than doubled the size of the award, to $506 million, the following month. The reason for increasing the award was because Apple did not stop infringing WARF’s patent after the 2015 ruling; Apple continued to violate the patent until it expired in December 2016, according to court documents.
Apple says in the brief that the size of the larger award was calculated based on a per-unit rate of all devices sold between October 27, 2015—the day after the initial judgment—and the patent’s expiration date. The per-unit rate WARF requested, $2.74—which Conley later ordered Apple to pay—is “more than any rate ever paid for a single processor patent,” according to the brief.
Apple says WARF acted “improperly” when it told the jury about the requested royalty rates ($2.02 to $9.18) in a separate patent infringement case between Apple and Samsung.
“WARF improperly told the jury about requested royalty rates from the unrelated Apple-Samsung litigation in an effort to make its damages demand appear ‘reasonable’ by comparison,” attorneys for Apple write. “None of this evidence should have been allowed at trial because it was legally impermissible and highly prejudicial to Apple. WARF brazenly used each improper piece of evidence to artificially inflate the damages numbers presented to the jury, tainting the entire damages trial.”
Asked to respond to Apple’s claims in the brief, a spokesperson for WARF said “WARF does not typically comment on litigation and will not plan to comment further on details associated with this case until the matter is fully reviewed and resolved in court.”
In September 2015, WARF filed a separate lawsuit against Apple over chips it uses in the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPad Pro. Those models were not yet on the market when WARF first sued Apple the previous year. Conley has said he would not make a ruling on the newer case until Apple has gone through the appeals process with the 2014 suit.