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Patent Infringement: Apple v/s PanOptis Patent Management LLC

patent infringement cases 2020

 

A District Court in the Eastern District of Texas has recently ordered Apple to pay $506.2 million for patent infringement, to a Patent Management company called PanOptis Patent Management LLC. 

Looking at the background of this case, Panoptis (together with some other companies – Plaintiffs Optis Wireless Technology, LLC; Optis Cellular Technology, LLC; Unwired Planet, LLC; and Unwired Planet International Limited), collectively filed a complaint in the District Court of Eastern District of Texas in February 2019. In the complaint, the plaintiff (PanOptis along with related parties) alleged that Apple’s (the defendant) line-up of various products infringes 7 of Panoptis’ LTE-based wireless standard patents and demanded a jury trial on the matter. 

Panoptis further alleged that Apple was responsible for direct, induced as well as contributory infringement because all the alleged patents were standard-essential patents (SEPs), and Apple’s line-up of products complied with the LTE standard. The products include the globally famous iPhone, iPad, and Apple watch series. Panoptis further alleged that its repeated efforts to negotiate a FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) license on the alleged patents were unsuccessful and Apple continued to willfully infringe on these patents.

From the 7 patents that were asserted, the jury found 5 patents to be infringed by Apple’s products. Here, the rationale applied to detect infringement is that the asserted patents are LTE SEPs and the above-mentioned Apple products follow the LTE standard. Therefore, these products cannot operate without infringing on the asserted patents. Panoptis proved exactly that and Apple failed to show any of the asserted patents as invalid. Following is a table to help you easily understand which patent claims were asserted and mapped to which technical specification of the 3GPP LTE standard:

Sr. No. Patent number Asserted Claims Related 3GPP Technical Specification 
Patent 1 US 8,019,332 6 and 7 TS 36.201 sections 1 and 4
Patent 2 US 8,385,284 1, 14, and 27 TS 36.201 sections 1 and 4.1
Patent 3 US 8,411,557 1 and 10 TS 36.201 sections 1 and 4.1
Patent 4 US 9,001,774 6 TS 36.213 section 7.2, TS 36.211 section 6.3.4, and TS 36.331 section 6.3.2
Patent 5 US 8,102,833 8 3GPP TS 36.201 sections 1 and 4, and TS 36.212 section
5.2.2

Consequently, the Jury ordered Apple to pay $506.2 million as a result of damages for patent infringement, caused to Panoptis due to past sales of the Apple products. 

Meanwhile, Apple plans to appeal this case and commented “lawsuits like this by companies who accumulate patents simply to harass the industry only serve to stifle innovation and harm consumers”

It would be interesting to note further developments in this case.  

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