Apple loses A7 patent lawsuit to University of Wisconsin, faces $0.9 billion damages

Page 4 - Seeking answers? Join the AnandTech community: where nearly half-a-million members share solutions and discuss the latest tech.

dahorns

Senior member
Sep 13, 2013
550
83
91
The issue wasn't that they were intentionally not licensing, they do not believe they infringed on the patent at all and if they did, they felt the patent wasn't legitimate. The Judge already decided that it wasn't intentional. Now, the roof has been set by the jury, the next few years Apple will chisel it down while they try to win the Appeal. If WARF was conservative, which they should be, they would just give Apple the opportunity to settle at a premium to what they licensed to Intel to.

The other aspect to consider, is that Apple doesn't publish their processor designs and they are kept under trade secrets. So there is a lot of professional guessing about how they are managing their ILP and minimizing Load/Store misses.

Wisconsin has a lot more leverage than you suggest.

While appellate courts do overturn jury verdicts all the time, they cannot do so just because they may disagree with the factual findings of the jury. There either has to have been a legal error on the part of the judge, or the factual basis has to be so weak that there is essentially no support for the jury's decision. Also, consider that Wisconsin as an appellate argument as well, since the Judge decided there was no evidence that Apple willfully violated the patent. That is a decision that an appellate court can very easily overturn and place in the issue in the hands of a jury.
 

stingerman

Member
Feb 8, 2005
100
11
76
Wisconsin has a lot more leverage than you suggest.

While appellate courts do overturn jury verdicts all the time, they cannot do so just because they may disagree with the factual findings of the jury. There either has to have been a legal error on the part of the judge, or the factual basis has to be so weak that there is essentially no support for the jury's decision. Also, consider that Wisconsin as an appellate argument as well, since the Judge decided there was no evidence that Apple willfully violated the patent. That is a decision that an appellate court can very easily overturn and place in the issue in the hands of a jury.

Yes, of course. But, Apple has nothing left to lose, whereas WARF is watching their potential winnings chiseled away. And their demand for an egregious licensing fee doesn't help. Maybe they are thinking they can get Apple to settle for 50% and a cheaper license going forward? Who knows, but I'd be surprised if they have even proven Apple is actually using the techniques they patented. Apple doesn't publish or discuss it's micro-architecture. SO it's left to professional guessing.

And, really, the Patent describes techniques that developers have been using for decades. Keeping track of Load/Store misses assigning them a signature and weight in a circuit based look up table, to delay (synchronize) the processing of the Load/Store. Yea, big innovation there ;)
 

dahorns

Senior member
Sep 13, 2013
550
83
91
Yes, of course. But, Apple has nothing left to lose, whereas WARF is watching their potential winnings chiseled away. And their demand for an egregious licensing fee doesn't help. Maybe they are thinking they can get Apple to settle for 50% and a cheaper license going forward? Who knows, but I'd be surprised if they have even proven Apple is actually using the techniques they patented. Apple doesn't publish or discuss it's micro-architecture. SO it's left to professional guessing.

And, really, the Patent describes techniques that developers have been using for decades. Keeping track of Load/Store misses assigning them a signature and weight in a circuit based look up table, to delay (synchronize) the processing of the Load/Store. Yea, big innovation there ;)

Jesus, there is no professional guessing in court. The information you are talking about would have been subject to discovery and would have been given to the judge and jury.
 

imported_ats

Senior member
Mar 21, 2008
422
63
86
Yes, of course. But, Apple has nothing left to lose, whereas WARF is watching their potential winnings chiseled away. And their demand for an egregious licensing fee doesn't help. Maybe they are thinking they can get Apple to settle for 50% and a cheaper license going forward? Who knows, but I'd be surprised if they have even proven Apple is actually using the techniques they patented. Apple doesn't publish or discuss it's micro-architecture. SO it's left to professional guessing.

Apple has a LOT left to lose. Like being able to sell any products in their primary market. AKA, Apple has BILLIONs left to lose. If you want to do the balance of the negatives, its like this for apple: BILLIONs vs millions. For WARF its like this: millions vs slightly less millions. As far as proving stuff goes, the court and jury was convinced that Apple used it. AKA its been proven that apple is using the techniques they patented. That's why Apple is on the hook for all that money. So there isn't any guessing: Apple has been proven in a court of law to used the technique in the patent, the patent has been proven in a court of law to be valid.

Anyone saying apple has nothing left to lose just simply doesn't understand.

And, really, the Patent describes techniques that developers have been using for decades. Keeping track of Load/Store misses assigning them a signature and weight in a circuit based look up table, to delay (synchronize) the processing of the Load/Store. Yea, big innovation there ;)

No, you are flat out wrong. The paper and the associated dissertation where pretty ground breaking when they came out. as was the rest of the research that came out around multi-scalar from UW.
 

imported_ats

Senior member
Mar 21, 2008
422
63
86
Jesus, there is no professional guessing in court. The information you are talking about would have been subject to discovery and would have been given to the judge and jury.

Or if Apple refused to reveal the info, it is moot, as that legally is the same as admitting guild. AKA, if you assert you don't use a technique, you must present evidence such that infringement of the technique can be determined. If you can't/won't, well... you lose as a matter of law.
 

Rakehellion

Lifer
Jan 15, 2013
12,182
35
91
Ideas are not a form of property. Property is a system designed to resolve disputes over scarce goods. An idea is not scarce because the same thought can exist in an infinite number of brains at the same time. Thus there is no potential for conflict. Contrast that with a piece of physical property, which exists in only one place.

The patent system, therefore, is designed to force people to act as though ideas are scarce, creating dispute where none existed.

The debate over intellectual property has changed dramatically in the last few years thanks to the experiences of the digital age. You might enjoy this article on the subject.

Ideas are scarce. Some people are better at producing them than others, a talent that should be rewarded.
 

dahorns

Senior member
Sep 13, 2013
550
83
91
Or if Apple refused to reveal the info, it is moot, as that legally is the same as admitting guild. AKA, if you assert you don't use a technique, you must present evidence such that infringement of the technique can be determined. If you can't/won't, well... you lose as a matter of law.

Not quite right, although the result may be the same. The plaintiff will always have the burden of proof, but if the defendant refuses to produce relevant evidence, even in the face of a court order, it will be sanctioned by the court. And courts have a lot of leeway in crafting appropriate sanctions.
 

Sho'Nuff

Diamond Member
Jul 12, 2007
6,211
121
106
Hadn't even seen Sho'Nuff post much lately, he knows more about it than the vast majority of people of course.

I've seen a lot of reverse engineering on a few aerospace things myself, some companies live by it, actually.

Thanks. I've been crazy busy as of late - not much time to post.
 

Headfoot

Diamond Member
Feb 28, 2008
4,444
641
126
Ideas are not a form of property. Property is a system designed to resolve disputes over scarce goods. An idea is not scarce because the same thought can exist in an infinite number of brains at the same time. Thus there is no potential for conflict. Contrast that with a piece of physical property, which exists in only one place.

The patent system, therefore, is designed to force people to act as though ideas are scarce, creating dispute where none existed.

The debate over intellectual property has changed dramatically in the last few years thanks to the experiences of the digital age. You might enjoy this article on the subject.

Have you ever heard of the natural rights theory? The debate over intellectual property has not changed. A bunch of people with no idea how it works want everything to be free. Grifters gonna grift.

But I'm sure the fact the US is the single largest economy based primarily on intellectual property is a total coincidence.

Get real.
 

Headfoot

Diamond Member
Feb 28, 2008
4,444
641
126
The patent system is pretty lousy if you don't have deep pockets to invest in and defend your patent portfolio. Plenty of small timers have been burned in numerous ways, and not necessarily due to errors in their filing. I used to know an engineer (and ex-Army test pilot, among other things) who had invented a medical device somehow related to phlebotomy (I forget exactly what it did). <majorcorporationwhoshallnotbenamed> stepped in and threatened to reverse-engineer his device - sufficiently differentiated from the original design - and crush him on the open market if he wouldn't sell out to them for a paltry sum. He refused to bow to intimidation, so, sure enough, the big bad corporation came out with their own model and promptly eradicated the engineer's fledgling market position. He was powerless to stop them. He didn't have the (at the time) $100k+ necessary to hire competent defence attorneys. Today, you need a war chest in the millions just to play.

Completely backwards dude, sorry.

Patents are THE go-to way a small company has any chance of NOT getting their ideas stolen by big corporations with vastly greater economic power.

If your friend had gotten a patent, he could have stopped Big Corp from making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing anything which infringed his patent. Reverse engineering means absolutely nothing with respect to a patent. Reverse engineering defeats trade secret only.

An average patent where I live will cost you $40-60k total to prosecute the patent. I don't work with medical devices so the associated costs relating to the FDA and all that sort of thing might make it a bit more expensive. It's cheaper than a 100k defense budget. The conversation would have been 100% entirely different if he had a patent. "We're going to sue you and bury you with legal fees." "Ok, well I'm going to counterclaim patent infringement. Which costs millions to defend. And if I win, you get hit with trebled willful infringement damages, so have fun"

This story is PRECISELY why the patent system exists.
 
Last edited:

Headfoot

Diamond Member
Feb 28, 2008
4,444
641
126
If you say so. Not everyone with experience patenting things and defending said patents agrees with your assessment.

You'll find if you go to patent forums that one of the main concerns of people in patent reform is to make sure this trait (protecting small entrepreneurs) is maintained. It's an argument on both sides. Anti-change people say "But you'll screw over the little guys!" and pro-change people say "No, this change is actually better for the little guys because X, Y and Z."

It's probably the single most lauded attribute of the patent system in terms of PR.

Among patent attornies I can say with great certainty almost none of them agree with the Richard Stallman style extremists and their ilk
 

sxr7171

Diamond Member
Jun 21, 2002
5,079
40
91
I'm glad. Maybe UW can put a new student center on campus instead of fat cats building up Cupertino all day.
 

sxr7171

Diamond Member
Jun 21, 2002
5,079
40
91
Completely backwards dude, sorry.

Patents are THE go-to way a small company has any chance of NOT getting their ideas stolen by big corporations with vastly greater economic power.

If your friend had gotten a patent, he could have stopped Big Corp from making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing anything which infringed his patent. Reverse engineering means absolutely nothing with respect to a patent. Reverse engineering defeats trade secret only.

An average patent where I live will cost you $40-60k total to prosecute the patent. I don't work with medical devices so the associated costs relating to the FDA and all that sort of thing might make it a bit more expensive. It's cheaper than a 100k defense budget. The conversation would have been 100% entirely different if he had a patent. "We're going to sue you and bury you with legal fees." "Ok, well I'm going to counterclaim patent infringement. Which costs millions to defend. And if I win, you get hit with trebled willful infringement damages, so have fun"

This story is PRECISELY why the patent system exists.

I think both of you are right. In theory the patent system exists to protect the small guy but in reality the cost of any contact with the legal system is prohibitive to anyone but those with moderate to large sized pockets. Certainly no middle class person can fund any kind of litigation. It requires the pooling of money from a group of individuals - a corporation. If a regular middle class person cannot defend or enforce a patent then what is the point of the patent system? This is an arena for corporations and very wealthy individuals only.

I wonder if in today's environment someone like Edison could even be possible. I know it was tough even by the time Sarnoff and Farnsworth fought to commercialize and profit from television.
 

dahorns

Senior member
Sep 13, 2013
550
83
91
I think both of you are right. In theory the patent system exists to protect the small guy but in reality the cost of any contact with the legal system is prohibitive to anyone but those with moderate to large sized pockets. Certainly no middle class person can fund any kind of litigation. It requires the pooling of money from a group of individuals - a corporation. If a regular middle class person cannot defend or enforce a patent then what is the point of the patent system? This is an arena for corporations and very wealthy individuals only.

I wonder if in today's environment someone like Edison could even be possible. I know it was tough even by the time Sarnoff and Farnsworth fought to commercialize and profit from television.

If an individual had a patent similar to what was at issue here and asked me to represent them, I would do it in an instant and I would do it on contingency. That person would not pay anything out of pocket. Attorney's fees and other expenses would be deducted from any recovery.
 

ALIVE

Golden Member
May 21, 2012
1,960
0
0
If an individual had a patent similar to what was at issue here and asked me to represent them, I would do it in an instant and I would do it on contingency. That person would not pay anything out of pocket. Attorney's fees and other expenses would be deducted from any recovery.

so a lawyer who knows nothing but the law
will hear someone that his patent is stolen and rush to the rescue
how is that even possible??

if you do not even know the subject of the patent how on earth you can see if it is violated.
and also that the problem when you go to court
jury and judges with no idea of what they are talked about they need to decide???

and by the way patents are supposed to protect your investment of research but how many times it is only used to block a technology.
it will end up who will sound better to the jury not who is right
the analogies that will be used to talk to the jury may be accurate or not
but the problem is the jury can not know if that is the case or not.

and you know
if you have to spent millions of dollars to defend your right then the system is in the wrong
it will end up not who is right but who pays the more money on atternoyes


and guys its another thing the theory
and another thing what in practice is done

in us there is no democracy you have 2 parties from day 1
where is the democracy where are the other parties???

because the constitution says there can be
but the reality you see no other
then it does not mean that the system works perfect
 

Sho'Nuff

Diamond Member
Jul 12, 2007
6,211
121
106
If an individual had a patent similar to what was at issue here and asked me to represent them, I would do it in an instant and I would do it on contingency. That person would not pay anything out of pocket. Attorney's fees and other expenses would be deducted from any recovery.


Oh no you would not. Patent litigation is high risk, high cost. Outcomes are uncertain at best. There is NO way you would offer up 1-3 or more years of your life - spending over a million dollars of billable time along the way - for a chance at a win in something as unpredictable as a patent litigation. There are very good reasons why NO Patent litigators take cases on contingency.

Fwiw I used to work for one of the top patent litigation firms in the nation. So I have more than just passing experience with this issue.
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
21,730
11,045
136
I do not really agree with "natural rights theory". It's just that anything that relies on US courts is going to be complicated and expensive. Both civil and criminal courts are overloaded in the United States, and it calls into question why we even have the USPTO in its current form at all if it essentially refuses to vet patents on the basis that they are overwhelmed with applications, pushing the entire matter of determining patent validity onto the court system whenever somebody bothers to sue somebody else over one or more patents. I sort of like the provisional filing system, and I seriously wonder if that won't replace more-formal filings (and the associated fees) given the essentially-passive nature of the modern USPTO.

edit: going back to the OP, it would be interesting to learn more about the patent in question, and to get technical and (personal, not specifically professional) legal opinions as to whether or not Apple really violated the patent. I see where stingerman sits on the issue . . .
 
Last edited:

dahorns

Senior member
Sep 13, 2013
550
83
91
Oh no you would not. Patent litigation is high risk, high cost. Outcomes are uncertain at best. There is NO way you would offer up 1-3 or more years of your life - spending over a million dollars of billable time along the way - for a chance at a win in something as unpredictable as a patent litigation. There are very good reasons why NO Patent litigators take cases on contingency.

Fwiw I used to work for one of the top patent litigation firms in the nation. So I have more than just passing experience with this issue.

Fair, enough, I'll defer to your patent specific expertise. Although, I've certainly been in cases where we've spent well into 7 figures of billable time, in addition to 7 figures of expenses, on contingency. Risking a few million isn't all that scary if the pay out is big enough. And, as I've said, I've never seen the perfect case. There is always risk.

Question, do patent firms not use mixed billable/contingent fee agreements?

Anyway, I was merely trying to point out that the concept that the little guys can't ever get justice in the legal system is flawed. The contingent fee exists for those type of cases. Maybe it doesn't find much use in patent cases, and that is unfortunate for those that can't afford the high billable hours that go with experienced litigators.
 

Sho'Nuff

Diamond Member
Jul 12, 2007
6,211
121
106
Fair, enough, I'll defer to your patent specific expertise. Although, I've certainly been in cases where we've spent well into 7 figures of billable time, in addition to 7 figures of expenses, on contingency. Risking a few million isn't all that scary if the pay out is big enough. And, as I've said, I've never seen the perfect case. There is always risk.

Question, do patent firms not use mixed billable/contingent fee agreements?

Anyway, I was merely trying to point out that the concept that the little guys can't ever get justice in the legal system is flawed. The contingent fee exists for those type of cases. Maybe it doesn't find much use in patent cases, and that is unfortunate for those that can't afford the high billable hours that go with experienced litigators.

In patent cases the mixed billable/contingent fee agreements are relatively common. But the specific type of compensation package agreed to between the client and attorney usually depends on what side of the ball the client is on. If your client is the defendant in a patent case, representation is usually on a billable hour basis, potentially with some side agreement for some percentage of sanctions, etc. that may be levied on the plaintiff (rare, but it happens). If your client is the patentee however, representation is usually on a per hour basis + some percentage of the damages award (if any) granted by the court. In quite a few patent cases the patentee's primary goal is to get a court to order the defendant issue an injunction against infringing activity. . . i.e., to drive the defendant out of or hinder its efforts in the market for the patentee's product. This is often the case where monetary damages are difficult to prove.

To your credit - I should have said that no patent firms take cases purely on contingency. The risk is too high. And when I said over a million dollars in billable time, I should have said that amount is on a per attorney basis. Many patent cases (especially high stakes cases) are staffed by a team of attorneys and their associated support staff. The average attorneys fees for a relatively small patent litigation (1-25M at risk) are around 1.6M to the end of discovery, and ~2.8M to final disposition. For larger cases (pharma, major tech companies, etc.), costs go WAY higher. That is one reason why companies like Apple, Intel, IBM, etc. have an in-house legal department with an IP division that is the size of an average mid size patent law firm.

Patent cases are also very different from other high stakes litigation (e.g., mass tort, class action suits, etc.) and have unique issues that make outcomes almost impossible to predict. For one - patent cases often involve complex technological concepts that are difficult for judges and jury members (who usually have no technical background) to understand. That alone introduces a massive amount of variability, as it is relatively easy for a the adjudicating authority (be it a judge or jury) to misunderstand the facts of a case and render an incorrect judgment, even when infringement or non-infringement would be clear to a person with an appropriate technical background.

Second - patent cases have several unique procedural elements. For one - near the outset of a patent litigation a Markman hearing will be conducted to determine the metes and bounds of the claims of the patent at issue. Those hearings can get extremely complex and drawn out, and often turn on how persuasive the experts presented on either side are with respect to how the claim language should be interpreted. They also often have a large impact on the outcome of the case. That said - a markman hearing might be wrapped up 1 or 2 years into the patent litigation. Put in other terms - one of the major indicators of the outcome of a case will not be completed until well after the fee agreements between the client and the lawyer are signed. Prior to the conclusion of the Markman hearing, it is often anyone's guess as to how the case will come out. Yet another reason why patent lawyers don't take cases purely on contingency.
 
Last edited: