Apple faces Caltech lawsuit over WiFi patents

The school is also targeting Broadcom.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Apple's legal troubles with schools aren't over yet: Caltech has sued Apple and chipmaker Broadcom for allegedly violating four WiFi-related patents. Supposedly, most Apple devices (including the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch) from the iPhone 5 onward use Broadcom chips that copy Caltech decoding and encoding technology to improve data flow. As with most such lawsuits, the institute is calling for both damages and a ban on offending hardware.

How well Apple or Broadcom fares isn't clear, but there's the very real possibility that they'll have to pay the piper (either following a trial or an out-of-court settlement). Given that the tech is vital to the 802.11n and 802.11ac WiFi standards, neither company can afford to stop using it -- not unless you miss the good old days of 54Mbps wireless access. And as The Verge points out, Caltech isn't exactly a patent troll relying on dubious claims to make a tidy profit -- it's more likely to have a valid case.