This week ended with two separate patent-related blows against Apple and Google in the United States.
On Friday, a jury in Texas awarded $300m in damages to Optis Wireless and its constellation of companies, to be paid by Apple because the 4G/LTE tech in its iPhones, iPads, and Watches were deemed to have infringed Optis’ communications patents.
Optis last year scored $506m in damages from the Cupertino giant. Apple later persuaded District Judge Rodney Gilstrap to order a retrial. Specifically, a retrial to come up with a damages figure that properly took FRAND into account – the notion that standards-essential patents are licensed on a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory basis.
In the end, Optis was awarded [PDF] just shy of a third of a billion dollars, or about two days of annual profit for Apple. The iGiant banked $157m a day in net income, or $57.4bn total, in its 2020 fiscal year.
The five patents in question – see below – once belonged to Samsung, Panasonic, and LG, and were obtained by Optis, which, according to Apple, doesn’t actually do anything other than sue corporations like Telsa, Huawei, and ZTE.
- US Patent 8,019,332
- US Patent 8,385,284
- US Patent 8,411,557
- US Patent 9,001,774
- US Patent 8,102,833
“Optis makes no products and its sole business is to sue companies using patents they accumulate,” Apple said in a statement to the media. “We will continue to defend against their attempts to extract unreasonable payments for patents they acquire.”
Optis, meanwhile, claimed Apple was unwilling to cough up a fair royalty rate for the patented designs. Interestingly enough, Optis is also pursuing Apple in the High Court of England, where it hopes to set a global royalty rate for its patents. In July, Apple threatened to pull out of the UK if it was ordered by London judges to pay a “commercially unacceptable” amount, Bloomberg reported.
Sono-st noch etwas?
Separately, Charles Bullock, the US International Trade Commission’s chief administrative law judge, emitted a preliminary ruling [PDF] on Friday that suggested Google’s hardware products infringed five of Sonos’s audio and wireless-related technology patents.
This stems from a complaint brought to the ITC by Sonos early last year, the outcome of which could result in Google being banned from importing its Pixel smartphones, Home gadgets, and other electronics into the US from factories in China and elsewhere. The ITC may also ban Google from selling the gear.
Judge Bullock said Google broke section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which is said to protect intellectual property at the US border and tackle unfair competition.
The patents in question are: US 9,195,258, 10,209,953, 9,219,959, 8,588,949, and 10,439,896.
A full decision is expected mid-December. This is the latest twist in a legal war between Sonos and Google that’s playing out in the US and Europe. ®