Irell Wins $234M Jury Verdict for WARF Against Apple

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October 2015

On October 16, 2015, a federal jury in the Western District of Wisconsin found that Apple Inc. owes Irell & Manella client, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), $234.2 million for patent infringement following a two-week trial. The damages verdict follows the jury's finding that Apple's A7, A8 and A8X system-on-chip designs infringe a WARF-owned computer processing patent.

The patent-in-suit is U.S. Patent Number 5,781,752 (the '752 patent). The patent covers a predictor circuit, which streamlines the way a processor works by predicting what instructions a user will give the system based on data from previous use and the machine's previous guesses. Apple products benefiting from WARF patented technology include the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus, as well as several versions of the iPad. 

WARF, the nonprofit foundation that serves as the technology transfer arm of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, filed the patent infringement suit against Apple in 2014. WARF claimed that Apple used the technology to speed computer processing by allowing the efficient out-of-order execution of computer instructions with a data speculation circuit that WARF had patented several years earlier. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) issued the patent to WARF in 1998 on behalf of a UW-Madison computer science professor and three graduate students.

In the two-phased trial, the federal jury first found that Apple did, in fact, infringe the asserted claims of WARF's '752 patent. They also found the asserted claims to be valid. The issues of infringement and validity took the jury six hours to deliberate in WARF's favor. In the second phase of the trial, the jury awarded WARF $234 million dollars in damages.

In the same litigation, Irell represented WARF in an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding brought by Apple. On April 15, 2015, the PTO's Patent Trial and Appeal Board declined to authorize an IPR on any grounds asserted in Apple’s petition, finding that Apple has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on any of the nine challenged claims.

Irell also represented WARF in earlier litigation against Intel on the same patent, which resulted in a $110-million settlement shortly before trial in 2009. In addition, WARF filed another suit against Apple earlier in September 2015 alleging that new Apple products, including the iPhone 6S, also infringe the '752 patent.

The case is Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation v. Apple Inc., case number 3:14-cv-00062, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

The WARF trial team includes Morgan Chu, Gary Frischling, Jason Sheasby, Alan Heinrich, Annita Zhong, Christopher Abernathy, Amy Proctor and Tony Rowles. The home team includes Richard Birnholz, Rebecca Carson and Gavin Snyder.