In a lawsuit, the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) was able to prevail against the corporations Apple and Broadcom, which were sentenced by a federal court in Los Angeles to a total of 1.1 billion US dollars in damages. Apple accounts for $837.8 million of this, Broadcom for $270.2 million. The lawsuit, which was already filed in 2016, was concerned with whether the two companies had used university research technologies in commercial products without the university’s approval. The amount of damages was calculated on the basis of license fees, which would have been 26 cents per iPhone in the case of Broadcom and $1.40 in the case of Apple.
Specifically, this was a WLAN component developed by CalTech, then integrated into WLAN chips by Broadcom and finally installed by Apple in millions of iPhones. The stolen technology, which helps to improve data transmission, was already protected by the university at that time through a series of patents.
In response to the ruling, which was made because none of the companies could prove the necessary rights of use for the patents from the court’s point of view, the companies’ lawyers have already announced that they will appeal. The lawsuit could therefore drag on for several more years until a final ruling is reached. Apple itself also claims that the chips were only bought by Qualcomm and that the company therefore could not have known that the patents were being infringed.
The university commented on the incident, according to a report by reporting agency Reuters, explaining that CalTech is not a for-profit educational institution that relies on the money. Although people are happy to take the compensation payments with them to invest in further research, the money is rather secondary according to the university’s statement. Rather, the lawsuit was about the university wanting to make it clear that its research results should serve the whole of humanity and not be exploited by individual corporations to maximize their profits through new commercial products.