Apple Ordered to Pay Optis Wireless $300 Million in Second LTE Patent Trial

Apple must pay $300 million in damages to Optis Wireless Technology for infringing a handful of patents related to 4G LTE technology, a Texas jury has ruled (via Reuters).

applewatchseries4lte
In August 2020, a jury found that Apple had infringed five Optis wireless patents and awarded $506 million in damages, but a Texas judge vacated that award in April and ordered a new trial to focus on damages only.

US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap said the first jury was unable to determine if the amount was awarded on the FRAND terms (a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory basis) usually required in standard essential patent cases.

PanOptis and its sister companies, Optis Wireless Technology, Optis Cellular Technology, Unwired Planet, and Unwired Planet International, are non-practicing entities that hold patents and generate revenue through patent litigation, otherwise known as patent trolls.

In a statement, Apple said: "Optis makes no products and its sole business is to sue companies using patents they accumulate. We will continue to defend against their attempts to extract unreasonable payments for patents they acquire."

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Top Rated Comments

ojobson Avatar
38 months ago
I still don't understand how a company with no actual operations and don't sell anything can be found to be damaged... what a mad world.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Makosuke Avatar
38 months ago

I still don't understand how a company with no actual operations and don't sell anything can be found to be damaged... what a mad world.
I'll caveat this with: I'm not defending patent trolls. I despise them, think they are leeches harming the technology industry and society as a whole, and also think the entire patent system is rather broken and in all likelihood this particular patent shouldn't exist in the first place for any or all of a variety of reasons.

But, you can think of it this way (leaving non-practicing entities out of it): I have a brilliant idea for a widget. I develop the idea to the point that I know how to build the widget and patent it. The widget, however, requires a bunch of manufacturing, marketing, and distribution infrastructure to actually make money off of, which I don't have, so I offer the widget idea up for licensing if anybody else wants to use it to make money.

Company A says "Sure! Here's $100 million for a non-exclusive license to manufacture the widget you developed."

Company B says "Screw you, we're just going to build the widget anyway and not pay you."

In that scenario, it's pretty clear how you were being "damaged" by Company B, although you don't actually make anything yourself. In that scenario, Company A is also getting damaged, since their version of the same widget is going to cost more since they paid the license for it and Company B is flouting the patent and using it for free.

By extension, then, if Company A doesn't exist and Company B does and does the same thing, you have a situation where a company decided to "steal" your idea instead of paying, even though you weren't making anything with it, so there's a pretty clear argument to be made that you've been damaged.

By extension, if Company C says "Well, we don't have any manufacturing ability ourselves, but we're good at licensing to manufacturers, so we'll pay you $150 million for the patent because we think we can get other companies to pay more than that later," then it's totally legit for you to sell your widget plan to them for $50 million, and totally legit for them to expect to be able to license it to Company A and B for $100 million each. If Company A pays and Company B doesn't, you're out $50 million on your speculative venture despite both companies selling the widget that you paid a boatload of money for the rights to.

Since this is (I think?) a FRAND patent ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasonable_and_non-discriminatory_licensing'), it's part of a standard so companies are expected to be offered a fair and non-discriminatory licensing fee to use it, but if they don't pay when everybody else did, then they're getting an unfair advantage. In this case something to do with the implementation of LTE, which in theory other companies using the same technology are paying. Being patent trolls, who knows--it's totally possible that they only sue the big targets in Payday District, Texas, and completely ignore everybody else.

You could also use the analogy for copyright. If I write a book and nobody wants to publish it, I have no actual operations and $0 in sales, I just have a manuscript. But if one of the publishers turns around and publishes it without paying me, then I've been plenty harmed. This one actually does happen.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MGrayson3 Avatar
38 months ago
Using "it's against the law" is a tricky argument. The law is interpreted differently in different districts. You may notice that all these decisions come from a single district in Texas that has made a business of deciding in favor of patent trolls.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kkspire Avatar
38 months ago

If you invented something, you'd see it differently. Just because you don't make a product doesn't mean you shouldn't have rights to something you create.
They didn’t invent anything. And buying a piece of some idea and charging a gazillion dollars doesn’t meant it’s right. Think about epipens, and the new ceo raising prices to 900 bucks from like 60. And they do make something amazing.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
imnotarobot Avatar
38 months ago
I am not against legit patent disputes, I am against East Texas juries run as a for profit business. Run this trial anywhere else in the country and patent trolls will lose most of these cases. Suing someone for a patent dispute should be assigned randomly all over the country, or at least in the state where the defending company is located; you should not be able to choose where to file. Virtually every patent troll sues in East Texas.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Expos of 1969 Avatar
38 months ago

If you invented something, you'd see it differently. Just because you don't make a product doesn't mean you shouldn't have rights to something you create.
Even if the current patent holder did not invent what the patent covers, as long as they acquired the patent legally from another party, the patent should not be infringed upon by a third party. Some folks may disagree but that is the current law and Apple knows damn well.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)