Monday 19 October 2015

Apple has got itself into a bit of a patent WARFuffle.

This week, a US jury set damages of US$234 million (A$322 million for the Aussies or £152 million for the Brits) payable by Apple to WARF for patent infringement.

That’s a lot of money, but hardly seems so when compared to the tech juggernaut’s 2015 Q3 net profit of US$10.7 billion.

Here is what you need to know:

Who (or what) is WARF?

Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is the “private, nonprofit patent and licensing organisation” for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which manages a $2.6 billion endowment.

The organisation took Apple to court for infringement of patent rights, and trial commenced on the 5th October.

Patent infringement

WARF argued that Apple refused to pay royalties on the A7 and A8 processors used in the iPhone 5s and iPad, even after learning of the patent.

The patent in question was filed in 1996 and granted in 1998.

WARF is a ‘non-practising entity’, ‘patent assertion entity’, or ‘patent troll’

In the words of President Obama:

The folks that you’re talking about [patent assertion entities] are a classic example; they don’t actually produce anything themselves. They’re just trying to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them.

 

WARF has acknowledged that it is a ‘non-practising entity’, but cites that it is a misconception that these entities are not a model for innovation.

BusinessInsider placed WARF as one of its top 8 ‘patent trolls’.

Regardless, WARF has filed a second case against Apple in September, this time aimed at the A9 and A9X processors in the newer iPhones and iPads.

 

Let us know what you think about this whole WARFuffle by tagging us @lawpath and/or #lawpath.

Find out more about the patent process here, and start protecting your invention today.

Feel free to contact us on 1800 LAWPATH if you have any questions.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.