Apple is used to going to court in order to defend its patents but after several major wins against competitors, the tech giant finally found its match: the University of Wisconsin.
On Tuesday, a jury in Madison, Wisconsin, found that processors made by Apple utilize technology owned by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). The patent, which improves processor efficiency, has been used in Apple devices without permission.
The loss could leave Apple on the hook for up to $862.4 million in damages. Apple argued the patent is invalid, and petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review its validity, but the agency rejected the request in April of this year.
The patent at the center of the lawsuit was originally filed in 1998, and it's not the first time it's paid dividends for the University of Wisconsin. In 2008, the patent was used to sue Intel. That case was settled before it ever went to trial.
In the current case, WARF has alleged that Apple's A7, A8, and A8X processors—the ones used by the iPhone 5s, 6, and 6 Plus—infringe upon the school's patent. An additional lawsuit filed by WARF last month make the same claim against Apple's latest A9 and A9X chipsets, the processors found in the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, and iPad Pro.
WARF first filed suit against Apple in January 2014. The jury's decision concluded the first phase of a three-part trial process. The next courtroom battle will deal with damages, and a final phase will decide if Apple knowingly infringed upon the patent. If the court finds the Cupertino, California, company did intentionally use the patented technology, it could be on the hook for an even harsher penalty.
The WARF declined to comment on the lawsuit, as legislation is ongoing.