By: Editorial Staff, Date: February 22nd, 2022

For the past eight years, Apple has been mired in a patent dispute with the company Wi-Lan over the technology found in Apple’s iPhone 5 series and iPhone 6 series smartphones. It’s a dispute that has seen two separate trials over the past eight years and one that stems from bandwidth technology that enables a “subscriber unit” rather instead of the “base station” to allocate bandwidth. Now, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has decided to move forward with a third damages trial in this ongoing dispute.

In an attempt to avoid a third damages trial, Apple challenged the district court’s interpretation of a subscriber unit, arguing that it was limited to customer premises equipment such as home routers. However, this challenge was ultimately rejected.

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In addition to rejecting Apple’s challenge regarding the definition of a “subscriber unit”, the Federal Circuit also affirmed the jury’s verdict in the previous trial that the 5 series and 6 series iPhones in question did indeed contain a subscriber unit. Finally, the Federal Circuit concluded that a third damages trial should have been ordered following the second trial in the dispute based on expert testimony.

Before these conclusions by the Federal Circuit, Apple had been granted a summary judgment of noninfringement based on a license agreement between Intel (the company that manufactured the processor chips at the center of Wi-Lan’s claims against Apple) and Wi-Lan that, according to Apple, gave Intel a license through patent expiry rather than for the license term. However, the Federal Circuit rejected this reading of the license agreement, finding that the license did not extend in perpetuity but rather only applied to pre-termination sales. Now staring down a third damages trial, Apple could find itself on the hook for additional infringement liability.

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