Patent infringement: Apple sentenced to $ 500 million in damages

A Texas court ordered Apple on Tuesday to pay more than $ 500 million in damages to PanOptis for violating 4G patents held by the company. The Californian giant, whose market capitalization approaches 2,000 billion dollars, will appeal the decision, according to specialized American media.

PanOptis, a company specializing in licensing the use of patents, sued Apple in February 2019. In question: it accused the iPhone manufacturer of refusing to pay commissions for the use of certain technologies related to the 4G LTE (mobile telephony standard) in its devices (smartphones, tablets and connected watches).

    "The plaintiffs have tried several times to negotiate with Apple to reach an agreement on" reasonable and non-discriminatory "license costs for the patents that Apple infringes," says the original complaint. "Negotiations failed because Apple refuses to pay licensing costs."

According to legal information sites, Apple tried to argue that the patents were invalid, without convincing the jury. The group did not immediately respond to a request from AFP.

Apple is not its first setback in this Texas jurisdiction, which has already ruled twice in favor of another company specializing in licensing, VirnetX, to the tune of several hundred million dollars.

PanOptis, a "patent hunter"

PanOptis and VirnetX have acquired a reputation as "patent troll", in the sense that their activity, legal, consists mainly of negotiating licenses and suing companies that refuse to negotiate. PanOptis thus offers its clients the opportunity to manage their patent portfolio so that they can focus on "innovation and development".

    "The world of telecommunications is particularly targeted" by patent hunters, explained at the beginning of the year Pierre Breesé, president of the consulting firm IP Trust, to AFP. "This sector is based on complex technologies, covered by thousands of patents: it whets appetites".

In the United States, where several thousand procedures are initiated each year, litigation brought by "patent trolls" would cost companies nearly $ 29 billion annually, according to an estimate from Boston University.

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