$2bn patent lawsuit against Apple tossed out in Germany

IPCom, a patent-licensing firm, claimed Apple and HTC were infringing on its patents. A German court disagreed.

A court in Germany has dismissed a patent lawsuit against Apple that could have cost the company over $2bn.

In the lawsuit, IPCom, a German patent-licensing company, claimed that some Apple products infringed a mobile patent that IPCom owns. IPCom was suing Apple for €1.57bn in damages for allegedly infringing on the patent.

The patent covers a technology that IPCom claims is essential to the UMTS and LTE mobile standards, and as such, any company that uses it should be subject to licensing agreements (and related licensing fees). In a statement, IPCom claimed that the patent "is particularly vital for the emergency services and police, since it gives them priority access to the networks in emergencies, even if networks are overloaded."

In a ruling handed down late last week, Germany's Mannheim regional court dismissed both the Apple suit and a related lawsuit filed by IPCom against HTC, which concerned the same patent.

IPCom's managing director, Bernhard Frohwitter, said that the company will appeal the decision. "We are very surprised by this decision, particularly so since the very same court — like others in Germany and the UK — has already determined a multitude of infringements of this patent," he said in a statement.

Indeed, in recent years, IPCom has been involved in a number of lawsuits over this and other patents, albeit with varying success. Previously, this patent was contested at the European level: Apple, along with HTC, Nokia, and other mobile phone manufacturers challenged the patent in the European Patent Office. The patent was upheld, but in a narrower form. And in April 2012, the regional court in Düsseldorf found that T-Mobile and Vodafone had infringed on the patent.

The patent is part of a portfolio of IPCom acquired both patents as part of a portfolio of over 1,000 patents that the company purchased in 2007 from Robert Bosch, a German electronics firm that used to produce mobile phones.

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