Apple to Pay Patent Infringement Fine to Tech Companies

The Texas federal jury has asked tech giant Apple to pay a patent infringement fine of $506 million to a group of telecom companies. On Tuesday, Apple said it plans to appeal the decision regarding the matter.

“We thank the jury for their time but are disappointed with the verdict and plan to appeal,” Apple said in an email to Forbes as touching the matter. “Lawsuits like this by companies who accumulate patents simply to harass the industry only to serve to stifle innovation and harm consumers.”

In the infringement allegations against Apple, the Eastern District of Texas said the tech giant failed to prove that patent claims from the telecom companies including PanOptis Patent Management, LLC were not valid. On that account, the jury demands that a fine of $506.2 million would be taken into account for royalty payments from previous sales, according to Law360.

The suit’s plaintiffs include PanOptis Cellular Patent Management, LLC; Optis Cellular Technology, LLC; Optis Wireless Technology, LLC; and Unwired Planet, LLC. The companies have their addresses in Dallas and Dublin, Ireland, respectively, according to the complaint.

The tech companies filing the complaint against Apple stated in a 108-page complaint that the tech giant was infringing patents offering 4G LTE services on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The complaint was filed in February 2019, however, the companies stated that since 2017 Apple has failed to reach an agreement for a global license under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

“The plaintiffs have repeatedly negotiated with Apple to reach an agreement for a FRAND license to the Plaintiff’s patent portfolios which Apple is infringing,” the court filing carried.

Apple has demanded to postpone the trial for two months or more due to “one of the most serious threats to public health and safety that the nation has ever experienced,” according to Law360.

This patent suit is a case of patent suits filed by licensing firms that do not make any products but have rights to certain technology products and services. These firms are commonly called “patent trolls.”

This wouldn’t also be the first infringement allegation against Apple as the Texas court has ruled against Apple twice in the past, with a demand for payment worth hundreds of millions of dollars to VirnetX and another patent litigation specialized firm.

The tech giant is currently worth nearly $2 trillion.

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