Apple ordered to pay $300 million in latest patent dispute ruling

Photo (c) Bill Oxford - Getty Images

The company has criticized the suing party and said it will appeal the decision

A jury has decided against Apple in a patent dispute and awarded Optis Wireless Technology $300 million because it felt Apple used the company’s technology in its iPhones, iPads, and Watches without securing a license. 

It’s interesting to note that Optis doesn’t manufacture any actual products. In fact, it doesn’t appear to be in the mobile technology business at all. It describes itself as a “people data services and cloud software solutions” company that just happens to own the patents that are the cornerstone of this case. 

Those patents once belonged to Panasonic, LG, and Samsung before Optis purchased them. According to a report by Bloomberg, the lawsuit is built around technology that Optis claims is crucial to carrying out the 4G communications standard, a key component in Apple’s mobile devices. 

Apple vows to fight the award

Apple’s been down this road before. In 2019, the company paid Qualcomm over $4 billion as part of a settlement in another royalty dispute. Although the award to Optis is lower than a previous ruling because it is focused on damages only, Apple says it intends to appeal the ruling as a matter of principle.

In an email sent to The Verge, the tech giant said it values invention and respects intellectual property, but it called Optis out because the company “makes no products and its sole business is to sue companies using patents they accumulate.” 

“We will continue to defend against their attempts to extract unreasonable payments for patents they acquire,” Apple stated.

Apple thinks it has sufficient reason to lay blame at Optis feet for being lawsuit-happy. Not only does the company have a track record of suing others -- like Tesla and Huawei -- on similar grounds, but it is also pursuing Apple in the English High Court, where it’s seeking to establish a global royalty rate for its patents. As a result, Apple threatened to pull out of the United Kingdom if it was ordered by London judges to pay a “commercially unacceptable” amount.

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