Supreme Court Won’t Review Apple’s $506 Million Win in University Patent Case

In a victory for Apple, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by the University of Wisconsin over a case involving chips in iPhones and iPads.

The case made headlines in 2015 when a jury sided with the university’s claims that Apple had infringed on its patents. The court ordered Apple to pay $234 million in damages.

In 2017, a judge more than doubled the verdict to $506 million after finding Apple owed either $1.61 or $2.34 in royalties for every device it sold.

Last year, Apple, however, persuaded the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to throw out the ruling. The court, which is responsible for all patent appeals in the country, tossed the verdict after concluding  “no reasonable juror could have found infringement based on the evidence presented.”

The Federal Circuit’s conclusion turned on the esoteric question of how the word “particular” should apply to questions of data management involving the chips.

In its appeal, the University of Wisconsin said the Federal Circuit wrongfully reinterpreted a question that should have been left to the jury—a position echoed by some prominent patent scholars.

The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case means the University of Wisconsin is out of legal options, and Apple has won the case.

The university, which manages its patents through an entity called the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), has faced controversy in the past for its aggressive assertion of its intellectual property. Critics say its tactics parallel those of so-called patent trolls, which pursue lawsuits despite not implementing the inventions described in their patents. Defenders say the patent lawsuits filed by WARF and other universities are an important for commercializing valuable research.

In response to a request for comment, WARF sent the following statement: “While we are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision, we are still pursuing Apple’s infringement in U.S. District Court.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

This story was updated to include WARF’s response.

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