Apple said Tuesday it plans to appeal a decision by a Texas federal jury that said the tech giant should pay a group of telecom companies more than $506 million for willfully infringing patents covering 4G LTE technology, in one of the few in-person jury trials to take place since the Covid-19 pandemic shuttered courtrooms nationwide.
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The Eastern District of Texas jury said Apple did not prove that patent claims from the companies, including PanOptis Patent Management, LLC, are invalid, and determined that $506.2 million would account for royalty payments from past sales, according to Law360.
In a 108-page complaint filed in February 2019, the companies alleged that Apple is infringing the patents by offering 4G LTE capability on the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch; adding that since 2017 it has repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to reach an agreement for a global license under terms that were fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory, called FRAND.
“We thank the jury for their time but are disappointed with the verdict and plan to appeal,” Apple said in an emailed response to Forbes, adding “lawsuits like this by companies who accumulate patents simply to harass the industry only serve to stifle innovation and harm consumers.”
Plaintiffs in the suit include: Optis Cellular Technology, LLC; Unwired Planet, LLC; PanOptis Patent Management, LLC; and Optis Wireless Technology, LLC, which all share the same Dallas address, according to the complaint; another plaintiff, Unwired Planet International Limited is based in Dublin, Ireland.
Apple had sought to postpone the trial for at least two months due to “one of the most serious threats to public health and safety that the nation has ever experienced,” according to Law360.
4G LTE, or Long-Term Evolution, is the current standard (fourth generation) in wireless broadband communication for mobile devices and data terminals, but networks are migrating to 5G. To show how slowly things evolved, 1G dates back to the 1980s, according to Verizon, which makes it slightly younger than Apple, which was born in 1976 in Cupertino, CA. This is not the first time Apple’s been sued over 4G LTE technologies. In 2014, Canada’s WiLAN filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple for its alleged use of “WiLAN’s 4G and LTE technologies found in most of Apple’s products.” AppleInsider reported in June the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California upheld a January award to WiLAN of $85.2 million and added $23.8 million in interest. By comparison, for its third quarter ended June 27, Apple posted quarterly revenue of $59.7 billion, an increase of 11% from the year-ago quarter.