It's Chu v. Apple in Wisconsin University Patent Case
The University of Wisconsin's patent licensing arm has tapped powerhouse patent litigator Morgan Chu to pick what could be a major fight with Apple Inc.
In a lawsuit filed on Friday, the Irell & Manella partner alleges that Apple is infringing the university's patented technology in the processor that powers some of the company's newest blockbuster devices: the iPhone 5S, iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display.
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Alumni Foundation claims that the patent, issued in 1998 to four university researchers, covers a technology that is used in Apple's A7 chip "to achieve enhanced efficiency and performance." (Read the complaint here.)
The researchers' work, WARF claims, "has been recognized as a major milestone in the field of computer microprocessor architecture/design." The complaint, filed in U.S. district court in Madison, alleges that Apple was aware of the patent's existence because it cited it as relevant prior art in one or more of its patent applications.
As one of the nation's top patent trial lawyers, Irell's Chu claims to have more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements under his belt. He's faced off against Apple before, but never in a high-profile case or trial. Chu had no immediate comment on Friday's complaint.
WARF, which is the designated patent management organization of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, claims that it had no choice but to file a lawsuit because of Apple's refusal to license third-party patents. "Apple has stated that it is the policy of the company not to accept or consider proposals regarding licensing from outside entities like WARF for any purpose, making the initiation of this lawsuit a necessity," the complaint says.
WARF has charged Apple with willful infringement and is requesting treble damages and payment of attorney fees and court costs. It is also requesting an injunction that would prevent Apple from continuing to use the technology without a license.
WARF is also embroiled these days in patent litigation with the public interest groups Consumer Watchdog and the Public Patent Foundation. We covered that case, which challenges the validity of a patent WARF holds on embryonic stem cells, here and here.