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Apple’s latest patent trial: Five things you need to know

Apple’s latest patent trial: Five things you need to know

Apple is once again embroiled in a patent trial. But this time it isn’t with big time rival Samsung, rather a US college.

The University of Wisconsin has won the first stage of its tussle with Cupertino, after a jury found in favour of its alumni department’s claims that Apple had breached patents it had filed in 1998, using the IP in its A7, A8 and A8X chipsets.

What does this mean for Apple? And where is the case going next? Here are five things you need to know.

1 It could be costly

a9 processor

A jury in Madison, Wisconsin, reckons that Apple breached a patent filed by the University of Wisconsin’s Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) relating to improving the efficiency of chips.

WARF claimed that Apple used the IP in its iPhone 5s and iPhone 6, as well as iPads from 2014. The judge in the case says Apple could be liable for as much as $862.4 million (£577 million) in damages.

2 It dates back to early 2014

court building generic

WARF first filed its case against Apple in January 2014, just months after it released the iPhone 6, which smashed sales records in its first three months on sale.

The device’s success was largely down to Apple’s impressive ‘system on a chip’, which it proudly touts as one of its key technologies in iOS products.

3 It’s just the start

ipad pro a9x processor

WARF isn’t done yet. Last month it filed a new lawsuit against Apple, saying the same patent had been infringed by the company’s new A9 and A9X chipsets.

These are found in the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus and iPad Pro respectively.

With the Madison court already finding in WARF’s favour, Apple could easily find itself on the end of another costly loss.

4 Apple’s case was ignored

courtroom gavel

Apple tried to claim that WARF’s patent was invalid. This was thrown out by the jury, allowing WARF to successfully argue that its intellectual property had been breached.

Apple has yet to make an official comment, but with the company’s army of lawyers and its previous legal wrangling with Samsung are anything to go by, it seems unlikely it will go down without a fight.

5 Apple aren’t the first to face WARF’s wrath

Intel Inside processor (generic banner)

In 2008, WARF sued chipmaker Intel over breach of the same patent.

That case never made it to trial, with Intel reaching an out of court settlement with WARF, with the amount remaining undisclosed.

Apple may have successfully seen off Samsung and sued it for breach of its IP, but it seems it has met its match in the form of a Midwestern university.

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