Apple could be liable for up to $862.4 million after losing a patent lawsuit to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Tuesday.
A federal jury in Madison ruled that the tech giant had infringed on the university's patent for a type of microprocessor that was used in iPads and iPhones, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Next, the jury will decide on the amount of damages and whether or not Apple "willfully" infringed on the patent, which could increase penalties.
The patent in question was filed in 1998 by four UW computer researchers and describes a "table-based data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer." Basically, UW's microprocessor is faster because it executes instructions out of order. The patent “has been recognized in the field as a major milestone in computer microprocessing,” Michael Falk, the lawyer representing the university, told the Wisconsin State Journal when they filed the suit earlier this year.
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the university's patent division, previously sued Intel over a similar patent infringement case which was settled confidentially in 2009. And it won a suit against Sony for a processor in the PlayStation 2. Last month, the foundation filed another separate lawsuit against Apple about the chips used in the newly-released iPhone 6S, the iPhone 6S Plus, and the iPad Pro.
This is not the first time Apple has been found guilty of breaking patent law. In February, it was ordered to pay $533 million for infringing on patents held by Smartflash, a Texas company, in developing iTunes. That decision was thrown out by a judge this summer, and is waiting on a retrial. Apple also won its own long-running patent lawsuit against Samsung for $930 million, although a court may reduce that award.
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.