University wants $400 million from Apple for patent infringement

Will Apple have to shell out to silence a courtroom claim?

Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple and Samsung have gone at it for years trying to settle infringement claims in courtrooms all around the world, but now Apple has a new legal opponent: a university in the American midwest.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's licensing department, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, argued successfully that Apple infringed on its design patent for enhancing processor chip performance. It's a patent that Intel has already run afoul of, and this week, Apple got dinged as well for its use in the A7, A8, and A8X processors used in recent iPhones and iPads.

On Tuesday, a federal jury in Madison decided that Apple had indeed infringed on the patent, and now the jury must decide how much Apple must pay the Foundation to make it right. Earlier this week, the judge suggested that damages could come out to as much as US$862.4 million - a drop in the bucket compared to Apple's bulging market value, but still a massive amount of money.

However, Bloomberg reports that the Foundation is actually seeking US$400 million for its troubles, but Apple doesn't see it as a discount. In fact, Intel paid just US$110 million to settle its own claims regarding 1.5 billion PC processors, while Apple is under fire for the A7's use in about 150 million devices. Expectedly, Apple doesn't think that's very fair.

Closing arguments are set to be heard tomorrow, so it may not be long before we know Apple's fate in this matter - although appeals could drag out for some time. And even if not, it might not be the end of this saga: the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has since filed suit claiming patent infringement on the A9 and A9X chips used in the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and upcoming iPad Pro.

[Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters]