Apple to Pay Over $500 Million in Damages for Patent Infringement

Takeaway: Defendants of patent infringement suits can still be liable for additional damages if the patent is still being infringed upon after the damages verdict was awarded.

After a long-fought patent infringement case between Apple and the University of Wisconsin-Madison patent-licensing division, Judge William Conley of the Western District of Wisconsin added $272 million to a previous $234 million damage verdict because Apple continued to infringe the patent at issue for more than a year after the jury issued the verdict for damages.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison patent-licensing division, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), owned a patent relating to a technology called a “predictor circuit,” which is a type of circuit that can improve a processor’s performance inside a device. The predictor circuit allows the processor to anticipate a user’s command, allowing it to respond more quickly.

In 2014, WARF sued Apple for using the predictor circuit technology in its iPhones. In 2015, a jury awarded WARF $234 million in damages. Apple argued that the patent was invalid and should not be awarded. However, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected Apple’s request to review the patent’s validity. Up until December 2016, Apple continued to use the technology in its iPhones, and consequently, Judge Conley added $272 million the damages award for Apple’s continued infringement.

Now, with the damages doubled, Apple faces the choice of continuing to fight, or surrendering now and cutting its (rather hefty) losses.