Caltech's seven-year Wi-Fi patent battle with Apple and Broadcom is over

The 2016 lawsuit alleged that iPhones and other devices infringed on Caltech's patents.

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The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has reached a settlement with Apple and Broadcom over Wi-Fi chips, ending a billion-dollar patent dispute that started in 2016, Reuters has reported. In a filing, Caltech said that it's dismissing the case with prejudice, meaning it can't be filed again.

The saga has taken several turns. Caltech initially alleged that millions of iPhones, iPads, Watches and other Apple devices with Broadcom chips infringed its Wi-Fi based patents. The institute initially won a $1.1 billion jury award, with Apple ordered to pay Caltech $837.8 million and Broadcom to pay an additional $270.2 million.

However, Apple appealed, and a federal appeals court overturned the decision, calling the award "legally unsupportable." Specifically, the judge rejected Caltech's argument that it could have negotiated licenses with both Broadcom and Apple for the same chips.

The jury then ordered a new trial — though it also upheld the original jury's findings that Apple and Broadcom infringed two Caltech patents. That trial was supposed to take place this June, but was postponed indefinitely. The parties told the court last August that they had reached a "potential settlement," but didn't disclose any other information.

The technology is vital to the 802.11n and 802.11ac WiFi standards, though its inventor said that the patents (related to data transmission tech), weren't originally designed for WiFi. Broadcom remains a major Apple supplier, having recently signed a $15 billion agreement to furnish chips for upcoming iPhones and other products. Caltech recently settled a similar lawsuit against Samsung, and still has Wi-Fi patent cases pending with Microsoft, Dell and HP.