Judge orders Apple to pay $23.6 million over 1990s pager technology

“Apple Inc. was told to pay a Texas company $23.6 million after a jury found its iPhone and other devices used pager technology from the 1990s without permission,” Susan Decker and Dennis Robertson report for Bloomberg. “Six patents owned by Mobile Telecommunications Technologies LLC are valid and infringed, a federal jury in Marshall, Texas, said late yesterday. MTel claimed Apple’s Airport [sic] Wi-Fi products and iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices with messaging used the technology. This is the second trial in as many months in which the Cupertino, California-based Apple was accused of using pager technology without paying for it. It won the first case, involving a different company, last month in California.”

“Mobile Telecommunications was a pioneer in wireless messaging in the 1990s, when its SkyTel 2-Way paging system was the smartphone of its day. Now the company is the licensing arm of closely held United Wireless, which co-owns and operates the legacy SkyTel network for use by first responders and doctors,” Decker and Robertson report. “MTel claimed that Apple devices rely on foundational technology for the transmission and storing of messages and should pay royalties. The Lewisville, Texas-based company was seeking $237.2 million in damages, or about $1 per device.”

“Apple denied infringing the patents and said MTel was trying to take credit for emojis — digital icons that express emotion — and calendar invites,” Decker and Robertson report. “It also argued that the patents were invalid because they didn’t cover any new innovations even when they were first issued.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, where will Apple ever find the cash?!

(Apple currently generates roughly $28 million per hour.)


    1. My thoughts too …

      For those who don’t know, East Texas (which is where Marshall, TX is located) is notorious for juries who regularly make inappropriate and incorrect awards to any “small time” plantiff who files against any large company (not just ‘Tech’) who is perceived as having “Deep Pockets”.

      Bottom line: ignore all East Texas rulings until they’ve been upheld _after_ the case has been moved to a different jurisdiction. Yes, they really are that bad.


  1. Appeal…

    Saying this technology is from the ‘1990s’ doesn’t say much. This is slightly more precise, from the source article:

    MTel’s patents in yesterday’s case were issued in the mid-to late-1990s and are either newly expired or nearing the end of their terms.

    US patents last for 20 years.

    1. U.S. Patents *currently* are valid for 20 years from the date they are accepted for filing and review.

      U.S. Patents used to be valid for 17 years after they were issued.

      Old patents issued under the old system still are only 17 years from the day they were issued. (Thus a patent issued in 1996 would be dead.) This is one of the few changes the USPTO has made that actually makes sense.

      Under the old rule a person or organization could file for a patent, get it into the system, then keep modifying the patent application (say tweaking the claims again and again) for several years (I’ve heard of some being intentionally delayed for over a decade to keep them within the review process). During the entire application and review process the implementation under review in the patent application was given de facto patent protection. Then when it was *finally* issued they get 17 more years of protection. In some cases this ended up giving the patent holder well over 20 years of protection.

      Under the new rules, if you delay the patent from being issued for any reason (such as tweaking the patent claims) you still only get 20 years. Delay does you no good.

      However, don’t get me started on the whole “First to Invent” versus “First to File” issue.

  2. Is Texas part of the United States? If it were not – what a mistake that was – we would not have had W, and we would not have these prejudiced IP trials. Difference in the 2 mentioned rulings – one in a court in the real USA and the other is the foreign country aka the state of Texas. Better it had stayed an independent republic.

  3. Yes if we in Texas could either protect our borders on the west and east side we would be very pleased.

    And if apple thinks they should steal patents then they should pay. Apples been notorious for this. What bothers me is that most readers on here think that’s ok. Those people should all be forced to live in California away from the beach. And keep their foolishness in one condensed area.

    Don’t mess with Texas.

  4. Actually this is great news for Apple! One of the suits against apple right now accuses them of illegal wire tapping for the way they store iMessages.

    “MTel claimed that Apple devices rely on foundational technology for the transmission and storing of messages and should pay royalties.”

    This “loss” shows that the method has been in place since the 1990’s and used by other companies.

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