Apple Loses London Appeal Over Optis 4G Patent

Apple has lost a legal battle with a Texas-based patent holding firm in London’s Court of Appeal on Tuesday.

Reuters reported that London’s Court of Appeal ruled that Apple had infringed two telecommunications patents used in devices including iPhones and iPads.

In doing so, the Court of Appeal has dismissed Apple’s appeal in a long-running dispute with the US patent holder.

Patent dispute

Texas-based Optis Cellular Technology LLC had sued Apple in 2019 over its use of patents which Optis alleged are essential to certain technological standards, such as 4G.

Apple lost the $506.2 million patent infringement case in a US courtroom.

But Apple appealed, and in April 2021 a US judge agreed with Apple and overturned the $506 million in damages award against it.

However that was not the end of the matter, as the legal battle was also being waged by Optis in the United Kingdom.

Optis won a separate case against Apple in the UK, this time claiming billions (up to $7 billion) rather than just millions of dollars.

In June 2021 a High Court judge ruled that Apple had infringed two Optis patents, which help iPhones connect to 3G and 4G networks.

Then in July 2021 Apple threatened it could walk away from the UK market if the court ruled that it has to pay the fees.

Exiting the UK market would mean Apple doesn’t have to pay.

Court ruling

London’s High Court ruled in 2022 that two of Optis’ 4G patents were so-called standard essential patents and that Apple had infringed them.

Apple appealed against that decision in May, arguing that the two patents in issue were not essential to 4G standards and that it had not infringed the patents.

But now Reuters has reported that its challenge has been rejected by the Court of Appeal, with Judge Colin Birss reportedly writing in his ruling that the High Court was “right to reject (Apple’s) argument for non-infringement” and on the issue of the patents being essential.

Apple and Optis did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.

Long running battle

As explained above, this ruling in London is the latest decision in the legal battle between Apple and Optis that began in 2019 and has prompted six separate trials and several appellate hearings in the UK alone.

Reuters noted that last month the Court of Appeal had upheld an appeal by Optis against an earlier decision to revoke two other 4G-related patents, following a ruling in October that Optis was entitled to an injunction to stop Apple infringing its patents before a court ruled on the fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms of use.

Apple had been granted permission earlier this year to appeal against that October ruling.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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