US court grants Apple and Broadcom new trial in billion-dollar patent case

Court gavel
(Image credit: Pixabay)

A US court has overturned a January 2020 ruling that ordered Apple and Broadcom to pay the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) $1.1 billion in damages over the alleged infringement of its intellectual property.

CalTech had successfully argued that Broadcom’s Wi-Fi chips used in the iPhone used innovations described in its patents related to data transmission technologies and Apple was told to pay $737.8 million and Broadcom $270.2 million.

However, the academic institution’s damages model was based on an argument that it could have simultaneously negotiated licences with both Apple and Broadcom.

iPhone Broadcom retrial

Apple at the time had argued that the infringements described by CalTech related to Broadcom’s technology and that it was only a customer of the chipmaker. This, it said, meant that the university’s grievance was with Broadcom.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has now rejected CalTech’s theory and said the original ruling was legally “unsupportable.”

“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," Judge Richard Linn is quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency. "Caltech's two-tier damages theory is legally unsupportable on this record."

The dispute will now be resolved in a new trial, while Linn has also called for a trial to determine whether a third patent was infringed.

Broadcom specialises in wireless communication chips for smartphones and other devices and Apple is one of the firm’s biggest customers.

Via Reuters

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.