back to article Apple ordered to write a $234m check to uni in A7 chip patent spat

A jury has today awarded the University of Wisconsin a $234m payday from Apple after the iGiant ripped off the college's processor design patent. Earlier this week, a district court in Madison, Wisconsin, said Apple's A7 system-on-chip in its iPhones and iPads infringed a patent belonging to the university's Wisconsin Alumni …

Very Appealing

Sure, $234m is pocket change for Apple, but enough that I assume they will appeal. If they do, the real question is can the University of Wisconsin afford protracted litigation?

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Re: Very Appealing

Also the question is if universities (UW is not the 1st one to go after another business) should engage in this kind of practices. Sooner or later their alumni may find themselves unemployable as nobody will like to risk getting them on-board (as every former student may have the "insider" knowledge). US universities make plenty of money as is and should rather concentrate on science and not litigation (maybe with exception of law schools, these are useless by their nature anyway). Not an Apple fan but I simply despise lawsuit happy culture where nobody wins but lawyers.

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Re: Very Appealing

Sooner or later their alumni may find themselves unemployable as nobody will like to risk getting them on-board (as every former student may have the "insider" knowledge).

By that logic any employee of a company that enforced its IP rights would be at risk of being unemployable by any company downstream of them in the supply chain. Fortunately for everybody concerned the world just doesn't work like that.

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Re: Very Appealing

I believe it's the business arm, not the university itself. The business is for the old boys, probably because they are already unemployable in the real world.

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Re: Very Appealing

Also the question is if universities (UW is not the 1st one to go after another business) should engage in this kind of practices.

The answer to this question is an overwhelming "Yes".

Let's get this straight. The uni developed a new method of doing something. They were awarded a patent on it. Unis generally license those patents to all-and-sundry for reasonable fees, and I'm making the assumption here that WARF would do the same. Universities then use this license money to fund education and R&D.

So, we have a "benevolent" organisation, who has innovated, noticed that someone is using this innovation, let them know that they need to license it, and been dismissed by the organisation. They have no choice but to take it to court, otherwise what is the point in having the patent? They were not asking for a ridiculous amount of money, Apple just did not want to pay.

Sometimes, lawsuits are necessary when all other avenues to reasonably resolve a dispute have been tried. This is not like the ambulance chasers. It is an organisation trying to reclaim what is rightfully theirs after all other avenues have been exhausted. If they didn't do this, they may as well have just released the invention to the public domain. Do you really think Universities would survive making no money from their inventions after pumping significant resources into them? No, they would abandon R&D and probably increase tuition fees to cover it.

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How much?

How much would it have cost Apple to license the patent? Perhaps it was a cost/benefits decision to simply pinch it.

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Re: How much?

Maybe because it's such a fecking obvious 'invention' it never occurred to them to even check for its existence. When there are holes like this in the road to trip you up it's a wonder any new products come to market.

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Re: How much?

"Maybe because it's such a fecking obvious 'invention'..."

Well, that's never stopped any of Apple's lawyers mounting actions against other people who used Apple's 'fecking obvious inventions''....

OK. I'll duck now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How much?

"Maybe because it's such a fecking obvious 'invention'" Like an oblong with rounded corners?

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Yoda standing on the sideline

now right scheming surely is.

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rounding error

Apple should settle with University of Wisconsin, up the award to $250 million, and spin it for PR.

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Re: rounding error

Apple seem to be stuck on stupid these days. They likely could have settled for far less when WARF sent the original notice and no one beyond the parties involved would ever have realized they infringed on the patent.

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a question

Are Apple still using the patented stuff in their current range of products? If so, do they have to licence further use of it?

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Unhappy

Tracking out of order execution?

Why do the words "Scoreboarding" and "Seymour Cray" spring to mind?

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Re: Tracking out of order execution?

... indeed .. though CDC 6600 is unlikely to mean much these days.

Seems that despite "everything" being on the internet, the history of computer science is not one one them ...

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Obvious?

Using a table to track stuff? Obvious? Prior art?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Obvious?

Sadly,

the patent seemed to be very broad AND the fact that Apple quoted the paten in their paten filings played a part in the case.

At first glance it seemed that the improvements (allowed) on the Wisconsin patent that appler were describing were still covered by the original patent. Thus they infringed.

While everyone can point the finger at Cupertino, they played the game correctly. If you quote the patent you fall foul of in a patent application for an improvement (note not copying) then often you can succeed.

Apple were found not to be liable for wilfully violating the patent.

Now it remains to be seen if Apple appeal the original patent award. If it is found to be overly broad then it might be the University who has to pay the legal fees of both sides. Ouch.

The US Patent System is as most people involved with patents know, not fit for purpose. There have been literally dozens of Branch PRediction patents over the years including ones that use a table structure. Not all of them can be unique.

Before anyone asks, I have had experience of the processed involved in US Patent submitting. I even got one in my name but never made a cent from it. That wasn't the object back then.

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Re: Obvious?

"Using a table to track stuff? Obvious? Prior art?"

This is the real problem. How far do you go? There must be so many patents that amount to "Look something up and doing something with it". I think the designer should at least be able demonstrate a novel take on the fundamental idea they're using.

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Has anyone asked how many billions Apple has spent on lawyers this time??

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234 million is not chump change

Not even compared to Apple 13 billion payday. 234 million is still a big ouchie.

Got to love the poetic justice. "Round" indeed. (very oblique and free associative reference I know)

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