Apple fined £385m over University patent infringement

The sum has more than doubled after an initial fine in 2015 was ignored

Apple has been ordered to hand over 385 million to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for continuing to infringe a design patent, more than double the original damages awarded to the school in 2015.

A US district judge awarded the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) 207 million in October 2015, after it successfully demonstrated that Apple had infringed its patent for technology relating to computer processing.

Despite the ruling, Apple continued to use the design until the patent expired the following year and, as a result, has been sanctioned with interest payments.

Apple has said it will appeal the decision, according to court papers seen by Reuters. An Apple spokesperson was not immediately available for comment at the time of publication.

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WARF brought the lawsuit against Apple after it discovered some versions of the iPhone were using a technology known as a 'predictor circuit', which is able to improve processor performance by anticipating what commands a user will input to the phone. WARF said it had held the patent to this technology since 1998.

Apple maintained its innocence during the 2015 trial, and said it had no knowledge of the patent while designing the iPhone. It also petitioned the US Patent and Trademark Office to review the legitimacy of the patent, although that argument was eventually rejected.

WARF also brought a second lawsuit against Apple in 2015, claiming that processors in later iPhone models also infringed the original patent, although the judge said he would not rule on that case until Apple was given an opportunity to appeal.

Earlier this year, Apple successfully ended an ongoing patent dispute with former mobile phone giant Nokia, which was one of a number of companies suffocated out of the market when the iPhone became a success. The Finnish company claimed that Apple had infringed 32 of its patents while developing the smartphone, a battle that only ended when Apple agreed to pay an undisclosed sum, estimated to have been between 390 million and 475 million.

Apple also faces a major legal battle with chip manufacturer Qualcomm, which is attempting to ban the iPhone in the US due to the infringement of six patents relating to its battery. Apple has since hit back, arguing that Qualcomm is using "illegal business practices" and is trying to assert a market monopoly. The International Trade Commission is currently investigating the case, although a resolution is nowhere in sight.

Main image: Bigstock

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