Apple ordered to pay over $500 million in fines for violating LTE patents

Apple has been fined $506 million by a federal jury in Texas for “willfully” infringing a total of five patents on cellular standards. The lawsuit was filed by a group of companies including PanOptics and Optis Wireless Technology over a year ago; it claimed Apple owed them royalties for violating several patents on LTE technology.

The court concluded Apple’s arguments were insufficient and that the infringement was willful, according to a Bloomberg report, which means the fine’s amount could be upped by as much as threefold later.

Apple told Bloomberg it plans to appeal the decision. “Lawsuits like this by companies who accumulate patents simply to harass the industry only serve to stifle innovation and harm consumers,” the company added in a statement.

The lawsuit primarily concerns standard patents that enable a handful of essential cellular functions and targets the use of LTE technology in the iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad. PanOptics said that it offered Apple a “global license” for the LTE-related patents. Despite trying to repeatedly negotiate with the Cupertino, California-based company, they couldn’t enter an agreement.

In its defense, Apple argued that by bundling LTE capabilities in its products, it doesn’t necessarily violate these patents. The company also tried to push the hearing back to October due to coronavirus concerns but was denied by the court. Notably, this was the first in-person patent trial since the pandemic hit.

As it stands, Apple will have to pay at least a sum of $506.2 million to Optis Wireless and its related companies. We’ve reached out to Apple for further clarification on its arguments against PanOptics’ patent claims and we’ll update the story when we hear back.

Apple is currently in the middle of another lawsuit in Texas with pioneer audio manufacturer Koss, who has accused it of violating patents on wireless headphone technology. Earlier this week, Apple countersued Koss alleging baseless claims and a breach of a confidentiality agreement.

Apple has faced several fines over the last couple of months. In March, It was hit by a record $1.2 billion fine by French antitrust authorities for unlawfully limiting wholesalers’ ability to sell Apple products. A few weeks before that, Apple agreed to a $500 million settlement for throttling older iPhones.

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