The Times of India | |
A composite image showing Professor Gurindar Sohi and Terani Vijaykumar who were part of a team that developed a patent illegally infringed upon by Apple Inc. – Bob Rashid and Purdue University
WASHINGTON: Gurindar Sohi and T N Vijaykumar are not names that will leap out of your latest iPhones as you gush over the performance of Apple’s much-coveted devices. But the work of these two Indian researchers, alumni of BITS-Pilani, is central to a patent lawsuit that may result in Apple having to cough up $862 million in a landmark case that underscores the seminal role that university research – and Indian engineers – play in the American high-tech eco-system. A US jury on Tuesday found the iPhone maker incorporated technology owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s licensing arm without permission in chips found in many of its most popular devices. The case relates to Apple’s use of A7, A8, and A8X chips, which are present in the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and the new iPhone 6S (plus some models of the iPad), and which are said to contain technology covered by a 1998 patent filed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (aka WARF). In court documents, WARF, which is the designated patent management organization of University of Wisconsin-Madison and uses revenue from patents to support research of its alumni, cited the work of four researchers, including Sohi and Vijaykumar, as being central to improving the performance of the chips Apple used. Their work, outlined in a paper titled “Table based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer,” had received patent # 5781752 or the simply known as the ‘752 patent,’ the University said.
“This work has been recognized as a major milestone in the field of computer architecture and design. Indeed, Dr Sohi, as leader of the lab that developed the 752 patent, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering based on his work in the field of computer architecture,” the University said in court papers, describing the work of the four researchers.US District Judge William Conley, who is presiding over the case, has indicated Apple could be liable for up to $862.4 million in damages. He has scheduled the trial to proceed in three phases: liability, damages, and finally, whether Apple infringed the patent willfully, which could lead to enhanced penalties. Sohi, who served as the department chair of the Computer Sciences department at UW-M from 2004 through 2008 and is currently a professor, has been a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1985. Vijaykumar is professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University. They are both alumni of BITS-Pilani going back to the 1980s and have collaborated on technologies that enable faster chip performance. The case also highlights the intense patent battles in the US high-tech industry, including the fierce way in which Universities protect research of their alumni. Some of the most seminal technologies relating to computers and the Internet, including semi-conductors, microprocessors, and browsers, have actually emerged from university labs. By one account, as much as $20 billion was spent on patent litigation and patent purchase between 2010 and 2012 in the smartphone industry alone.- Courtesy