Apple threatens to exit UK market over $7 billion patent dispute

Apple has threatened to exit the UK marker over a $7 billion (£5billion) judgement for a patent troll. Apple’s legal team warned that the company could quit the UK market if a court forces the company to pay a ‘commercially unacceptable’ fee for 3G and 4G technology used in its iPhones and iPads.

Apple Covent Garden in London
Apple Covent Garden in London

Apple issued the warning as part of a court battle with UK patent holder Optis Cellular Technology. Optis is suing Apple for patent infringement after the iPhone maker refused to pay license fees worth a possible $7 billion for using “‘standardized” 3G and 4G technology in its products.

Helen Cahill for Financial Mail on Sunday:

Apple faces a trial in 2022 over how much it should pay. The UK Supreme Court ruled last year that a UK court is able to set the rate Apple should pay for all of its iPhone patents worldwide, even though the court only considers the infringement of UK patents.

At a hearing in January, Mr Justice Meade warned Apple that ‘it might be disappointed’ by the rate set by a judge.

Apple could walk away from the fees if it exits the UK market. But Mr Justice Meade suggested this was unlikely, saying: ‘There is no evidence Apple is really going to say no [to paying the rate set by the judge], is there? There is no evidence it is even remotely possible Apple will leave the UK market?’

Apple’s lawyer Marie Demetriou replied: ‘I am not sure that is right… Apple’s position is it should indeed be able to reflect on the terms and decide whether commercially it is right to accept them or to leave the UK market. There may be terms that are set by the court which are just commercially unacceptable.’

MacDailyNews Take: In April of this year, a U.S. federal judge threw out a $506.2 million patent damages award against Apple after ruling the company should have been able to argue that the owner of the patent, Optis Wireless Technology, was making unfair royalty demands (although the judge refused to throw out the liability finding). The judge made the right decision to toss the patent damages award against Apple as the jury never heard, much less considered FRAND, the crux of Apple’s argument. The UK should follow suit.

5 Comments

  1. “… as the jury never heard, much less considered FRAND, the crux of Apple’s argument.”
    As FRAND is a voluntary commitment by the patent holder, ARE the patents in contention part of FRAND? If not, the point is moot since there is no FRAND considerations for the jury to hear or consider.

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