The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), has sued Apple over a patent it owns, claiming that Apple willfully and intentionally breached the patent in the design of its A7 processor.
The 64-bit chip features in Apple’s iPhone 5s and the iPad mini with Retina display. The specific patent, no. 5,781,752, specifically covers a “table based data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer”. This system is basically a predictor circuit, which performances a certain number of executions in advance based on previous instructions. The likelihood that those advanced predictions will be required is based on previous executions. The information for this is stored in a table, where entries for each instance are stored and deleted dynamically as storage permits.
WARF puports that Apple uses this technology in its A7 processor to enhance performance. However it also claims that “the acts of infringement by Defendant have been, and continue to be, willfull, intentional and in conscious disregard of WARF’s rights”. WARF is seeking to make Apple pay a fine, as well as Apple’s cooperation in ceasing to use this technology. It would be sad to think that Apple had in fact infringed on this patent willingly, however Apple’s legal track records is exceptional. It’s highly likely that WARF’s claims are misguided. Perhaps more importantly, even if WARF’s claims are solid, they’ll have an extremely difficult time bringing this fight to Apple.