Apple suffers patent woe as US university awarded $506m

26 Jul 2017

Apple. Image: emka74/Shutterstock

One of Apple’s many long-running patent disputes has taken a fresh turn as a US judge ruled that the tech giant owes a university $506m.

In 2014, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) took a case against Apple, claiming it was infringing on one of its patents.

In 2015, it was awarded $234m and now, two years later, that figure has more than doubled after a US district judge added $272m.

The most recent ruling took place because the judge felt that Apple continued to infringe on the patent – which relates to computer processor technology – until it expired in December 2016.

According to Reuters, Apple will appeal the decision, though the company has not made any official statement.

There is also a separate case between WARF and Apple, which will be dealt with after the latter has appealed this case.

Ongoing disputes

Apple’s patent dealings are taking up more and more of the company’s time in recent years, as the software industry stakes its claim as the most litigious of them all.

For example, in May, the iPhone giant and Nokia agreed to settle all litigation relating to a long-running dispute over intellectual property.

Under the agreement – the terms of which remain mostly confidential – Apple will make an undisclosed cash payment to Nokia and, in return, Nokia will provide certain network infrastructure products and services to Apple.

A bigger case between Qualcomm and Apple continues to rumble on, with suits and countersuits emerging in recent months.

The core of the issue concerning Apple and Qualcomm is royalties, and it all goes back to a deal struck around the provision of chips between 2011 and 2016.

The Cupertino company is also embroiled in a €13bn tax dispute in Ireland after the EU ruled that it was underpaying the member state, despite Irish authorities arguing otherwise.

The Irish Times recently reported that the State and Apple are close to a deal over the European Commission’s (EC) ruling last year.

The EC essentially claimed that the non-payment of tax was, in effect, illegal State aid over the span of a decade.

Despite an appeal in place with the EU, the Government has agreed to hold the money in an account until legal proceedings within the courts have finished, something that could take as long as six years.

In some good news, though, Apple became the first company ever to reach a valuation of $800bn earlier this year.

Apple. Image: emka74/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic