Apple, Broadcom Win Trial Against Caltech in $1.1B Patent Case

Judge in courtroom

A U.S. appeals court threw out a jury verdict that ordered Apple and Broadcom to pay the California Institute of Technology US$1.1 billion in damages. The judge ordered a new trial for damages, Reuters reports.

Apple Broadcom Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the ruling in January 202 was “legally unsupportable.” This amount would have also been one of the biggest ever in patent cases. The judge upheld the jury’s decision that Apple and Broadcom did infringe on two patents from Caltech. A new trial will find whether a third patent was infringed upon.

In 2016 Caltech sued the two companies, claiming that millions of Apple devices using Broadcom chips infringed on its data transmission patents. Caltech argued that the two companies could have negotiated a license for Apple devices containing Broadcom chips, and a license with Broadcom for chips used in other devices.

Writing for the appeals court, Circuit Judge Richard Linn rejected that argument:

The mere fact that Broadcom and Apple are separate infringers alone does not support treating the same chips differently at different stages in the supply chain. Caltech’s two-tier damages theory is legally unsupportable on this record.

Apple is one of Broadcom’s largest customers, saying that the tech giant accounts for an estimated 20% of its revenue.

In 2020 the judge had ordered Apple to pay Caltech US$838 million, and Broadcom to pay US$270.2 million. Apple had challenged the patent on “obviousness grounds.”

The alleged infringement relates to Apple’s use of Broadcom’s technology, which Caltech says uses IRA/LDPC encoders/decoders invented by the school. Amongst the products said to be using the allegedly patent infringing technology are iPhones from the iPhone 5 onwards, iPads, and MacBook Airs. Apple and Broadcom have consistently denied any wrongdoing. Apple has said it will appeal the verdict.

Caltech has also sued Samsung, Microsoft, Dell, and HP for alleged infringement on the same patents. Those cases are pending.

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