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Apple Ordered to Pay $300 Million USD to Non-Practicing Entity PanOptis in Patent Trial

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Apple has been ordered to pay $300 million USD in damages to wireless company PanOptis over patent infringements revolving around LTE technology.

According to Reuters, the tech giant was ordered to pay millions in royalties to PanOptis Patent Management and its Optis Cellular and Unwired Planet subsidiaries after the latter group claimed ownership over patents for the LTE cellular standard. A jury earlier decided for Apple to pay more than $500 million USD, but a retrial later lowered the sum down to $300 million USD.

A jury had previously found that Apple had infringed five Optis wireless standard essential patents and awarded $506 million in damages. However, U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap in Marshall, Texas, vacated that award in April and ordered a new trial to determine the amount of damages.

In February 2019, a group of firms operating under the name Optis Wireless Technology (including Optis Wireless Technology LLC, Unwired Planet LLC, and PanOptis Patent Management LLC) sued Apple over seven patents connected to LTE cellular standards. Every LTE Apple device is affected, including not just iPhones but iPads and the Apple Watch, according to court documents.

In a statement, Apple said: “Optis makes no products and its sole business is to sue companies using patents they accumulate. We will continue to defend against their attempts to extract unreasonable payments for patents they acquire.”

PanOptis is described as an “an intellectual property management and finance firm,” but Apple calls it a “patent troll” — an individual or an organization that purchases and holds patents for unscrupulous purposes such as stifling competition or launching patent infringement suits. In legal terms, a patent troll is a type of non-practicing entity: someone who holds a patent but is not involved in the design or manufacture of any product.

The lawsuit, which took place in Texas, is only a small part of a much larger claim from Optis to bring back close to $7 billion USD from Apple. Legal proceedings have been filed against the American tech giant all across the world, claiming patent violations across its iPhone, iPad and even Apple Watch models.

A court in the United Kingdom may be looking at setting a “global royalty rate,” which has spurred Apple lawyers to threaten to leave the region if the company is ultimately forced to pay “commercially unacceptable” amounts.

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