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Friday, April 24, 2009, 02:55 pm PT (05:55 pm ET)

OPTi wins $19 million from Apple in patent lawsuit

In a rare public legal defeat, Apple this week was found to have infringed on a patent for computing technology and has been asked to pay $19 million dollars in damages.

An Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division court handed down the amount on Thursday after ruling that Apple had "willfully" violated three claims in a patent for predictive snooping of cache memory that helps shuttle information between a processor, its memory and other elements of a computer.

Begun in January 2007, the lawsuit is a classic example of a firm suing based on very broadly worded patents designed to catch out and collect royalties from as many firms as possible, regardless of whether they were actually aware of the patent. OPTi had filed a similar suit against AMD despite its making processors Apple and other companies don't use; it also dropped all of its original manufacturing and sales businesses in 2003 to concentrate on its lawsuits as a primary source of income.

Apple for its part had tried to thwart the plaintiff by claiming that the patent was invalid both through prior art and through the obviousness of the techniques involved. Judge Charles Everingham of the Marshall court rejected both arguments in his verdict, letting the patent stand.

The Mac maker in its typical fashion hasn't commented on the loss. However, OPTi has already gone on record as hoping to "realize licensing revenue" from Apple and other companies in the future.