5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Oct. 16

Topping this week's roundup of companies that had a rough week is Apple, which lost a patent lawsuit and may have to cough up more than $800 million in penalties.

Also making the list were VMware shareholders who saw the value of their shares plunge on news about Dell's planned EMC acquisition, Rimini Street's loss to Oracle in a long-fought copyright infringement case, Intel's less-than-expected growth in data center products, and Southwest Airline's computer glitch – the latest in a line of IT failures to hit the airline industry in recent months.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's 5 Companies That Came To Win roundup.

Apple Loses Patent Lawsuit, Faces $862 Million Fine

A U.S. District Court jury concluded this week that Apple violated a technology patent owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is now mulling how much Apple owes in damages -- an amount that could be as high as $862 million, according to a Thomson Reuters story.

The jury found that Apple's A7, A8 and A8X processors violate a patent on technology for improving chip efficiency that's been held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation since 1998. Those processors were used in Apple's iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus, as well as several iPad models, according to the story.

Even for Apple, which had $15.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of June 27, an $862 million fine would hurt.

VMware Shares Hammered On Dell-EMC Deal

If anyone came out a "loser" in this week's announcement of the Dell-EMC mega deal, it was VMware. Or, to be more specific, VMware shareholders were losers.

VMware shares closed at $82.09 on Oct. 7, just as rumors of the acquisition began to circulate. On Monday this week, the day the deal was officially announced, VMware shares fell more than 8 percent to $72.27. By Thursday they had dropped even further to $68.46 – an overall loss of nearly 17 percent of the stock's value in little more than a week.

As part of the acquisition agreement EMC shareholders would get "tracking stock" in VMware that represents 53 percent of the virtualization technology vendor's market value. That means EMC, which owns around 80 percent of VMware, would no longer control the number of VMware shares traded on the open market, possibly leading to greater swings in share prices.

Rimini Street Ordered To Pay Damages To Oracle

Rimini Street, which has battled litigation from Oracle for years over the third-party support services it offers Oracle customers, lost a court case this week and was ordered to pay Oracle $50 million in damages.

A jury in Las Vegas agreed with Oracle's argument that Rimini Street's use of Oracle software and support materials constituted copyright infringement.

While the judgment is far below the $246 million in damages Oracle had sought, the jury verdict is a blow for Rimini Street. Oracle is also expected to seek an injunction to stop the company from operating altogether.

Intel Lowers Growth Forecasts For Data Center Business

Intel, which has suffered flat and even declining sales because of the sluggish PC market, this week lowered revenue expectations for its data center products – a business the giant chip maker has counted on for growth.

During the company's third-quarter earnings call this week CEO Brian Krzanich lowered Intel's growth forecast for its fourth-quarter data center business to low double-digit growth from an earlier forecast of 15 percent. The news sent Intel shares down 3.5 percent in after-hours trading.

Intel is counting on growth from its data center and Internet of Things product lines to make up for slowing sales of chips for the PC industry. So any hint of slower-than-expected data center product sales are a significant blow to the company's growth prospects.

IT Failure Delays Hundreds Of Southwest Airlines Flights

In what seems to be a regularly occurring headline for the U.S. airline industry, a glitch in Southwest Airline's computer system Sunday disrupted the airline's airport computers, reservation centers, website and mobile applications. The problem forced staff to manually process travelers, delaying about 450 flights.

American Airlines was hit with an IT problem Sept. 17 that caused havoc at that airlines' Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami hubs, delaying about 300 flights. In July a massive IT system failure grounded 3,500 United Airlines flights worldwide.