10.20.15

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The University of Wisconsin’s Lawsuit Against Apple Should Alarm Everyone, Not Just Apple Proponents

Posted in America, Apple, Patents at 5:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Numen Lumen

Summary: An aggressive arm of the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, is going after Apple, vainly demanding (and probably getting) almost a billion dollars from Apple alone, using a single patent which potentially covers just about everything with multiple CPU cores

NOT MUCH is happening in Wisconsin, which isn’t known for academic excellence (definitely not on par with redbrick universities and in the 2015 QS World University Rankings, its best university was ranked only 54th, according to Wikipedia). Microsoft lost a case in Wisconsin, having committed competition crimes there [1, 2, 3], but we haven’t heard much since then.

The University of Wisconsin is now serving to embarrass Wisconsin as a whole, by acting like a greedy opportunist and patent aggressor.

“These claims can easily be used to target not just Apple but a lot of software and many devices that have multiple cores.”The top 3 most read articles at WIPR right now are about the EPO [1, 2, 3] and number four is the Apple case that was covered by WIPR several days ago. What is it all about? A couple of articles from Ars Technica (and a patent trolling expert whom they hired after he had blogged a lot on these issues) provide a decent introduction. The patent in question is patent number 5,781,752, which based on our reading relates to memory and computation management at the CPU level (“the processor may fetch multiple instructions at a single time and an allocation circuit allocates those instructions to separate processing units.”)

These claims can easily be used to target not just Apple but a lot of software and many devices that have multiple cores. Apple is just a rich target, hence convenient to sue, but if we let Apple lose this case, who will the University of Wisconsin go after next? Watch just how much damage is caused by just one single patent. We therefore hope for appeal/s, despite the fact that we don’t support Apple in general (it is a malicious company).

“The people behind this patent receive (or received) a salary from a state university, having enjoyed their cushy, quasi-state-level job.”See the article “Apple faces $862M patent damage claim from University of Wisconsin”. To quote: “A jury has found Apple’s A7 and A8 chips violate a patent belonging to the licensing arm of the University of Wisconsin, and the world’s richest smartphone maker is now on the hook for up to $862 million in damages.

“The Wisconsin jury reached a verdict on Monday that Apple infringed US Patent No. 5,781,752, and the trial now enters a separate damages phase. The patent is owned by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, a university patent-licensing organization that was suing over patents before it was cool.”

What a gross amount in so-called ‘damages’. The people behind this patent receive (or received) a salary from a state university, having enjoyed their cushy, quasi-state-level job. Do they want to become big millionaires overnight, using an old piece of paper that a state university helped them get? It’s more than just patent ‘welfare’. We have been covering the patent greed of some universities before, but noting ever came close to this.

Also see the article “Jury orders Apple to pay $234 million for infringing university patents”. It says that “Apple lost a patent case on Monday, when a federal jury in Wisconsin found that the smartphone giant infringed a patent that originated at the University of Wisconsin, and is now held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

“That ended the liability phase of the trial, and the judge overseeing the case decided that damages should be decided in a separate phase. The damages trial concluded today when the jury came back with its decision that Apple should pay $234 million for its infringement.”

Wow, what a ‘bargain’. Who is WARF going to go after next?

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