In what is believed to be one of the largest patent verdicts ever, a fine of $1.1 billion to a California university has been ordered to be paid by Apple and Broadcomin relation to charges of infringing wifi technology patents. The judgment was passed by a Los Angeles jury on Wednesday.
The California Institute of Technology will be paid $837 million by Apple and $270 million by Broadcom according to the ruling.
According to the law suit filed in 2016 by Caltech against both tech giants, its patents related to wireless data transmissions had been infringed by Apple products including iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches used Broadcom components.
Despite the chips under the scanner in the case being made by Broadcom, the court slapped a larger fine on Apple because the tech giant amassed billions of dollars in profits by selling iPhones and other devices that contained the chip and the technology.
“Think of the patented technology as a piece of property that was stolen and sold to someone else,” said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. “It doesn’t matter if they had a go-between steal it for them, they were not allowed to benefit from a theft even if they were downstream.”
There were some analysts who wondered whether the court was influenced in any manner by the strength of the relationship between Apple and Broadcom which was forced years ago during a legal battle the United States based chip making giant Qualcomm.
According to reports published at that time, Broadcom’s failed bid to buy Qualcomm in a hostile takeover campaign was supported by Apple.
The efforts of the hostile takeover of the US smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm was abandoned by Broadcom in 2018 after the US president Donald Trump raised security concerns over the deal and blocked it.
The court ruling was welcomed by Caltech.
“As a nonprofit institution of higher education, Caltech is committed to protecting its intellectual property in furtherance of its mission to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education,” the institute said.
This court ruling could have implications beyond Apple and for those smartphone makers who had used Broadcom’s chips, believes analyst Enderle. “Caltech will go down the list of Broadcom customers and look for out-of-court settlements with anyone who used the compromised technology,” Enderle said.
There were also speculations about whether the ruling had open the doors to a new slew of patent battles in the tech industry.
“Typically, we go through waves of patent wars,” Enderle said. “I think it’s a case where, after a period of time, people age out or forget that there are significant penalties for this stuff.”
(Adapted from ArabNews.com)