A federal jury in Tyler, Texas has ordered Apple to pay $22.1 million to patent firm Acacia Research for violating U.S. Patent No. 8,055,820, related to cellular network technologies, according to court documents filed electronically this week. The monetary award is a running royalty for Apple's infringement through March 2016.
The jury said Apple did not prove with clear and convincing evidence that any asserted claims of the patent are invalid as obvious or based on improper inventorship. Apple's infringement was found to be willful, which in patent litigation means the patent holder can request that the judge enhance the damages by up to three times, or up to roughly $66.4 million in this particular lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in January 2014, accused Apple of selling multiple products that infringe upon the patent, including the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini 2. U.S. Patent No. 8,055,820, titled "apparatus, system, and method for designating a buffer status reporting format based on detected pre-selected buffer conditions," is highly technical and at one point was assigned to Nokia.
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Boost Mobile were also named as defendants for selling the infringing iPhones, but none of the carriers were named in the jury verdict. U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell presided over the case in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas, a popular region for non-practicing entities like Acacia Research and VirnetX to bring patent litigation against companies like Apple.
Acacia Research, based in Newport Beach, California, says it has returned over $705 million to patent owners. The corporation creates a subsidiary company for each set of patents it enforces through litigation, including Cellular Communications Equipment, LLC in this particular Apple lawsuit.
Our partnership with patent owners is the cornerstone of our corporate strategy. Acacia is an intermediary in the patent marketplace unlocking financial value in patented inventions.
Apple has not confirmed if it will appeal the decision.