Apple facing $2bn patent lawsuit in Germany

Apple facing $2bn patent lawsuit in Germany

Summary: Patent-licensing firm IPCom claims Apple is infringing on its mobile technology patents.

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Patents, EU

In Germany next week, Apple will have to defend itself against a patent lawsuit which could potentially cost the company over $2bn.

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In the lawsuit — which is for approximately €1.57bn in damages, plus interest — German patent-licensing company IPCom claims that Apple’s products infringe on a mobile patent that it owns.

Specifically, the patent covers "how access from mobile phones can be controlled in congested wireless channels," according to a statement from a regional court in Mannheim, where the lawsuit is filed.

Previously, Apple — along with a handful of other mobile players, including HTC and Nokia — challenged the patent in the European Patent Office.

Last month, the office upheld the patent, but in a narrower form. IPCom has contended that the technology is essential to 3G standards, and as such any company that uses the technology should be subject to licensing agreements.

IPCom is also suing for infringement based on a Germany-specific telecommunications patent that it owns, but has not yet determined a value for damages.

The patents in question are part of a portfolio of over 1,000 patents that IPCom purchased in 2007 from Robert Bosch, a German electronics firm that manufactured mobile phones in the late 1990s but has since exited the market.

Over the past few years, IPCom has been waging a patent war based on the portfolio in Germany and elsewhere, with varying success. Last July, IPCom reportedly landed a "low-to-medium triple-digit million euro" licensing fee from Deutsche Telekom to settle a number of patent infringement court cases, according to Reuters.

More on Apple and patents

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Patents, EU

Michael Filtz

About Michael Filtz

From the day he brought home a modem and dialed in to a local BBS in 1991, Michael has been obsessed with technology and how it enables collaboration. He has a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, and has worked in and around the technology start-up scenes in San Francisco and Berlin.

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  • *face-palm*

    just when you think it's starting to ease up...

    on the one hand, at least we know it's not just US patent law that's needing change...

    from a purely layman perspective shouldn't patents that are 'essentail' to a service such as 3g be resolved at it's inception?

    it seems sometimes people need to take a step back and see the woods....
    • When the day comes where you can't buy someone's patent

      and start trolling with it, that's when it will stop.

      I feel it's one thing to buy a patent so that you can use the patented technology for yourself, at which point you can sue for infringement or protection, but feel it's altogether different to buy some patents just for the sake of looking for someone to sue.
  • Of course

    Another Apple lawsuit, yawn. As the saying goes, "You reap what you sow".
    Sean Foley
    • Yet more Anti Apple rhetoric from the usual suspect....

      • Yet more defend Apple from the usual suspect

        Not really any better than the original comment.
        Little Old Man
    • You may come to regret that statement

      IPCom's patent assertion is of a fairly broad nature, and probably targets any phone maker offering 3G or 4G.

      In other words, your favoured company may be facing this soon as well.
    • Yes, Apple reaps innovation

      You are still looking for Apple to 'go out of business'? Am I right? You guys crack me up. Apple invents literally ever major computing innovation after the mainframe, and somehow because of some bad decisions you made a long time ago, you can never forgive them.
  • Dear Apple - while I support the development of innovative new products,

    you should not steal other companies patented inventions. Thank you.
    • Given the nature of IPCom's patent trolling

      You may need to broaden your accusation against, well, basically, every phone maker everywhere. The alleged infringing use - i.e. the implementation of 3G - is going to be as deep as it is wide.

      In short, prepare to pay more for your phone, no matter who makes it. Still feel the same way?
      • And furthermore...

        ...according to the usual doctrines of patent trolls, everybody using a 3G or 4G enabled phone is also an "IP thief" (you should have consulted a patent lawyer before buying that phone).
        John L. Ries
  • Textbook Patent Troll--if ANY of this were true, they'd had a FRAND patent

    So, another patent troll confuses another doddering old European judge. I seem to remember one seriously confused barrister awhile back who actually made Apple take out an ad 'apologizing to the Samsung (world renowned for IP theft), or tried to.

    How has this obvious troll any relevance whatsoever to Apple? If there were ANY credibility to this, they would have a FRAND patent, when in fact they have no licenses sold to any company.