Apple has found itself at the loser’s table this week, as a jury determined that the tech giant infringed on a patent owned by the licensing division of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. More specifically, the patent is held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, or WARF.
The patent in question, Patent No. 5,781,752, was issued in 1998 and is described as helping improve processor efficiency. According to WARF, Apple’s A7, A8, and A8X processors all infringe on the patent, meaning the the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and various iterations of the iPad tablet are in violation.
The presiding judge, District Judge William Conley, says that Apple could be on the hook for up to $862.4 million in damages for infringing on the patent. WARF had originally asked that the damaged be tripled as it ascertained that Apple knew of the patent and willfully infringed upon it. It remains to be seen how much if that figure will go up or down as the trial meanders the liability and damages phases.
WARF first brought its case against Apple back in January 2014, and had to wait nearly two years to taste the sweetness of victory over a company with incredibly deep pockets. But just because Apple is an easy target doesn’t mean that WARF’s lawsuit is without criticism. WARF is considered a non-practicing entity, or something that we lovingly like to call a patent troll. WARF actually ranked as No. 5 on Business Insider’s list of top patent trolls and shows no signs of slowing down.
WARF also ransacked Intel’s wallet back in 2008 over the same patent, and settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.