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Apple Threatens to Leave UK Market Over ‘Commercially Unacceptable’ Patent Fees

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Apple could leave the UK market if it is forced to hand over $7 billion USD to a patent troll, a company lawyer has claimed.

According to a This Is Money report, Apple’s lawyer called the fee “commercially unacceptable” and comes amid the news that the Cupertino company could be fined over its use of third-party patents.

UK patent holder Optis Cellular Technology is suing Apple for patent infringement after it refused to pay license fees worth around $7 billion USD for using “standardized” smartphone technology in its devices. A UK high court judge had passed a ruling last month confirming that Apple had infringed two Optis patents that help iPhones connect to 3G and 4G networks.

Now, Apple does not want to commit to taking a licence before the rate is determined. The trial date set for next week will focus on whether Apple is an “unwilling licensee.” If so, it could mean a possible sales ban in the UK.

If the court rules in favour of Optis, this would result in companies committing to take a court-determined rate once a patent is found valid and infringed. Refusal to do so could lead to their products being banned in the UK.

The trial, among the first of its kind, has implications for companies sued in global disputes over patents essential to technological standards. They may have to commit to take a court-determined rate once a patent is found valid and infringed or risk their products being blocked from the UK markets.

If Apple decides to quit the lucrative UK market, it would not just spell an end to the sale of iPhones in UK but also discontinuation of services and upgrades to its existing customers.

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