Apple Ordered to Pay Caltech $838 Million for Infringing on WiFi Patents

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
48,764
10,182



Apple and Broadcom have been ordered to pay the California Institute of Technology a fine of $1.1 billion for infringing on Caltech's patents related to WiFi transmissions, reports Bloomberg.

Apple has been ordered to pay $838 million, while Broadcom has been ordered to pay $270 million, but Apple plans to file an appeal.


Caltech in 2016 filed a lawsuit against Broadcom and Apple, claiming that the two companies infringed on a series of patents granted between 2006 and 2012. The patents in question relate to IRA/LDPC codes that use simpler encoding and decoding circuity for improved data transmission rates and performance, with the technologies used in the 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi standards supported by many Apple products.

At the time, Caltech said that Apple was infringing on four of its patents with the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple TV, Airport routers, and Apple Watch. Caltech demanded a jury trial and preliminary and permanent injunctions in the U.S. against Apple products using its technology. A jury today ruled that Apple and Broadcom violated three of the four patents.

Apple and Broadcom denied infringing on the patents and even filed counterclaims against Caltech, urging the court to invalidate the patents in question.

Apple claimed that because Caltech didn't file the lawsuit until 2016, six years after the 802.11n wireless standard was published, the time limit to collect damages had expired. Apple also argued that Caltech does not make, use, or sell products that practice the claims in the asserted patents.

Article Link: Apple Ordered to Pay Caltech $838 Million for Infringing on WiFi Patents
 

MikhailT

macrumors 601
Nov 12, 2007
4,430
1,025
I can understand a for-profit entity going after patent violations, but educational institutions should be donating their work to the world for the greater good, I think. What's the motive behind this? Schools are not in the business of profiting from patents, are they?
Yes, they are. In US, schools need to make money to fund their research and since a lot of companies use their research without paying for it, schools are turning into patent trolls to get some funding.

Tuition isn't enough to pay for all of the advanced tech stuff that they use and even tuition is too expensive.

I agree with you that state-funded school research should be automatically in the public domain but that's not it works in USA.

In my opinion, patent trolls should not be allowed to file a lawsuit after 5 years and these type of patents should be automatically expired after 10 years. Software patents should be banned.
 

rudigern

macrumors member
Apr 20, 2010
65
29
I can understand a for-profit entity going after patent violations, but educational institutions should be donating their work to the world for the greater good, I think. What's the motive behind this? Schools are not in the business of profiting from patents, are they?
They do the research and pay people wages to research, they need to recoup the money from somewhere. I'm just shocked at the amount, surely this should be FRAND as it's part of 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi standards. Shouldn't Apple be paying the WiFi consortium and part of that fee goes to Caltech for contributing to the standard?
 

Infinite Vortex

macrumors 6502
Mar 6, 2015
397
690
Schools are not in the business of profiting from patents, are they?
The last time I looked most, if not all, educational facilities need more than smiles and candy-floss to keep the lights on let alone fund the student/staff educations and research programs. And the fact of the matter is they have a right to their intellectual property and claim upon its value just the same as anyone else.

if you look at it the other way this, if proven, is tantamount to stealing from the eduction of the future.

But it's sad that Apple seems to think there's a use by date for being fair to those who create technologies. Interesting that didn't seem to apply when they chased Samsung for their infringements.
 
Last edited:

oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,157
11,997
Europe
When is the last time the Federal Circuit let a 9-figure patent infringement judgment stand without reversal and major reduction?

Any patent infringment judgement over $100M is super likely to be shot down by the Federal Circuit. They hate big judgements that favor patent owners.
 
  • Like
Reactions: EmotionalSnow

az431

macrumors 68000
Sep 13, 2008
1,538
4,512
Portland, OR
I can understand a for-profit entity going after patent violations, but educational institutions should be donating their work to the world for the greater good, I think. What's the motive behind this? Schools are not in the business of profiting from patents, are they?
Are you serious?
- - Post merged: - -

When is the last time the Federal Circuit let a 9-figure patent infringement judgment stand without reversal and major reduction?

Any patent infringment judgement over $100M is super likely to be shot down by the Federal Circuit. They hate big judgements that favor patent owners.
Ummm well there was that 300 million dollar verdict they upheld against Apple last January. A 140 million dollar verdict against Sprint a few months before.

Guess they didn’t get your memo.
 

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,212
3,556
The last time I looked most, if not all, educational facilities need more than smiles and candy-floss to keep the lights on let alone fund the student/staff educations and research programs. And the fact of the matter is they have a right to their intellectual property and claim upon its value just the same as anyone else.
Research at universities doesn't happen unless you already have money in hand. I'd bet you, the taxpayer, paid for this research via grants from the Federal government, as is true for 70-80% of university research dollars in the US.

Edit: As I suspected, it actually was paid for by the taxpayer, I pulled the Patent US8284833B2 and it says it was funded by "Grant No. CCR-9804793 awarded by the National Science Foundation. "
 
Last edited:

ksec

macrumors 65816
Dec 23, 2015
1,288
1,292
This is not about for profit or institutions.

This is an entity claiming patents in a tech that was designed in the open over a decade ago. And they did nothing until now.
 

robjulo

macrumors 65816
Jul 16, 2010
1,354
2,310
They should be donating their work to a private business? Apple should be donating it’s huge cash hoard for the world’s greater good instead of hoarding it in Ireland. How about we start there.

I can understand a for-profit entity going after patent violations, but educational institutions should be donating their work to the world for the greater good, I think. What's the motive behind this? Schools are not in the business of profiting from patents, are they?
 

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,212
3,556
They should be donating their work to a private business? Apple should be donating it’s huge cash hoard for the world’s greater good instead of hoarding it in Ireland. How about we start there.
Fine, then the Federal government should be collecting the royalties on behalf of the taxpayers who funded this, along with 80% of university research. Not a rich private school.
 

code-m

macrumors 68000
Apr 13, 2006
1,932
1,521
Research at universities doesn't happen unless you already have money in hand. I'd bet you, the taxpayer, paid for this research via grants from the Federal government, as is true for 70-80% of university research dollars in the US.

Edit: As I suspected, it actually was paid for by the taxpayer, I pulled the Patent US8284833B2 and it says it was funded by "Grant No. CCR-9804793 awarded by the National Science Foundation. "
Public or Private contribution donation that is being used by a private company should provide royalties for its usage to further educational R&D for future projects. I feel Apple should pay the amount rather than fight this, rich school or not it was a patent that the school felt was worth protecting the same way Apple patented the iPhone.

I believe it would be better PR if Apple just paid up after having record profits and this is coming from a shareholder and added a little donation for future R&D that is external to its campus, something that benefits the industry for FRAND usage. In fact all tech companies should be contributing to educational institutes for common tech usage that all benefit from.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SDRLS

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,212
3,556
Public or Private contribution donation that is being used by a private company should provide royalties for its usage to further educational R&D for future projects.
And you hit right upon another issue. Tuition and research grants, because they come from taxpayer dollars, are considered restricted funds. You have to use them for their intended purpose, and there's a list of things you can't buy like alcohol, dorms for athletes, president's salary above a certain threshold.

Commercial patent royalties are considered unrestricted funds, along with endowment and donation money. They are used for a whole slew of things that restricted funds cannot be used for like stadiums, swanky donor parties with tons of wine, renovations to the president's free housing, $55 million settlements for research fraud, etc.

This is why Caltech is so motivated to go after this. It's a huge amount of cash for the toys they can't otherwise buy.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mdriftmeyer

az431

macrumors 68000
Sep 13, 2008
1,538
4,512
Portland, OR
They should be donating their work to a private business? Apple should be donating it’s huge cash hoard for the world’s greater good instead of hoarding it in Ireland. How about we start there.
How much cash does Apple have in Ireland?

Oh, you don’t know. Maybe we should start there instead.
- - Post merged: - -

Fine, then the Federal government should be collecting the royalties on behalf of the taxpayers who funded this, along with 80% of university research. Not a rich private school.
Suggest your head over to Wikipedia and familiarize yourself with patents and grants before declaring war with your keyboard.
 

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,212
3,556
Suggest your head over to Wikipedia and familiarize yourself with patents and grants before declaring war with your keyboard.
I guarantee I know more about it than you. For all Federally-funded projects, regardless of a school or private business, the Federal government gets a fully paid up license for the life of any patents. The remaining rights are kept by the business or other organization. As I pointed out above, this disclaimer applies to these patents.

Schools and businesses can even get around this by doing 90% of the work on the grant, then using unrestricted or other non-Federal funds for the last 10% that results in the patent. Or, another common trick is once a grant is awarded, and before the funds arrive, to file a provisional with the basic idea.

In general, universities do not accept any money that do not allow them ownership of all patents, which is worse than most businesses.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: VulchR

firewood

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2003
7,818
1,067
Silicon Valley
For widely deployed public standards that benefit the general public by products actually being standardized, the government should really restrict (by IP law) IP royalties and penalties to a reasonable fee that covers ALL the patents and other IP required for the standard. e.g. if the standard involves 10,000 patents, then Caltech should get 0.01% of a reasonable royalty fee per patent (to fund further research and football coach salaries).
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.