NEW YORK (Reuters) - The University of Wisconsin-Madison's patent licensing body will not be able to extract triple damages from Apple as a jury weighs how much the iPhone maker must pay for using its microchip technology without permission, a U.S. judge ruled on Thursday.
On Tuesday, a federal jury in Madison, Wisconsin said Apple Inc infringed a Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) patent which helps improve the performance of computer processors. The foundation is claiming approximately $400 million in damages.
With a verdict on damages that could come as early as today, U.S. District Judge William Conley said in his ruling that WARF could not prove that Apple infringed its patent willfully. It is a welcome development for Apple, which no longer risks having the damage award increased by up to three times, which is allowed in federal law for recklessly infringing a patent.
Apple raised a reasonable defense in the case, Conley said, and WARF "has failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that Apple acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent."
Representatives from WARF and Apple both declined to comment on Friday.
WARF sued Apple in January 2014 alleging infringement of its 1998 patent for improving chip efficiency. The jury was considering whether Apple's A7, A8 and A8X processors, found in the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus, as well as several versions of the iPad, violate the patent.
Cupertino, California-based Apple denied any infringement and argued the patent is invalid, according to court papers.
WARF used the patent to sue Intel Corp in 2008, but the case was settled the following year on the eve of trial.
The case is Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, No. 14-cv-62.
(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Christian Plumb)