California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a tech-based university dedicated to advancements in science and engineering. To that end, according to the USPTO’s search engine, Caltech is named on over 3,600 patents in the United States alone. This week, a district court in California ruled that two large tech companies, Apple and Broadcom, infringed some of those patents. As a result, the court awarded a whopping $1.1 billion to Caltech for patent infringement.
The case centers around a patent family dating back to 2000 (U.S. 7,116,710; U.S. 7,421,032; and U.S. 7,916,781). The patents cover methods and devices used to encode wireless signals, such as Wi-Fi technology signals. According to Caltech, Broadcom manufactured Wi-Fi chips that infringed the patents. Apple installed the infringing chips in many of its devices, such as iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, iPods, and Mac computers.
Patent Infringement Damages
Caltech filed the lawsuit in 2016, ahead of the first patent expiration date of August 2020. After finding that Broadcom’s chips infringed Caltech’s patents, the jury returned a damages award of $837.8 million from Apple and $270.2 million from Broadcom. The award amounted to approximately $1.40 per device sold by Apple, and $0.26 per chip sold by Broadcom.
Apple and Broadcom have already indicated that they’ll appeal the decision. However, Caltech is in a strong position – its portfolio is not a single patent, but rather a patent family, and it has already won at the first stage of litigation.
Turn your IP into Valuable Assets
The moral of the story is twofold. First, whether you are an independent inventor or an institution, you can strengthen your intellectual property assets by creating patent families, instead of orphan (singular) patents. Second, your intellectual property assets can provide extreme returns on investment, such as over $1 billion in patent infringement damages.
Smith & Hopen strives to enhance our clients’ patent values as much as possible. One way to do that is to grow extensive patent portfolios. Another is to enforce or defend patent rights against infringers. Smith & Hopen has experience in both respects, such as by helping institutional clients to create patent families, and by successfully defending its own client’s wireless communication technology-based patent against Apple.