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Apple Fined 20 Million for Patent Infringement
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Apple must pay $20 million for infringing upon patents from the 1990s.

Summary: Apple has been fined $20 million for infringing upon patents from the 1990s.

The Guardian reports that Apple was fined over $20 million in a Texas court after it was found that Apple’s iPhone infringes patents on pager technology from the 1990s. The six such patents were filed during a five-year period from 1992 to 1997, and covered technology used by the SkyTel two-way pager network. The technology was run by Mobile Telecommunications Technologies (MTel).


Here is an article about a lawsuit regarding Apple’s text messaging.

Some of the patents have expired, but according to patent laws, MTel may claim up to six years’ worth of back payments for infringement that occurred while the patents were still valid.

MTel claimed that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, plus Apple’s Airport Wi-Fi routers, infringed the patents, specifically through the iMessage feature and email apps. Apple denied any infringement, arguing that the firm was attempting to claim ownership of a broad range of technology, including emoji and calendar invites.

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MTel asked for $237 million, or $1 for every infringing device that was sold. The award was roughly one-tenth of what MTel sought. According to Apple’s attorney, Brian Ferguson, “A damage award of $237 million is not common sense. It’s not logical.”

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Just last month, Apple prevailed in a California case, in which it was also accused of using another company’s pager technology. GPNE filed suit against Apple in 2011 over two patents, and asked for $94 million in damages. Apple responded that GPNE was a “patent troll with no active business other than patent litigation,” which, in the past, had sought payment from “everyone from truckers and farmers to roofers and dairies…Apple invents product that revolutionize industries, and relies upon the U.S. patent system to protect our innovation.”

Here’s a recent article about the CEO of Apple.

Unfortunately for Apple, it could not show that MTel was acting as a “patent troll.” Patent trolls, or non-practicing entities, buy broad patents and then sue for payment, without ever actually using the technology. However, MTel still operates the SkyTel pager network, which is used by firefighters and EMS workers.

One of the patents at issue is from 1993, for a “nationwide communication system” that uses base transmitters and receivers to broadcast messages via wireless networks. Another is from 1996 for a “method and device for processing undelivered data messages in a two-way wireless communications system.”

Here’s an article about a lawsuit regarding defective graphics cards in Apple products.

After this victory, MTel may be set up to win more damages—it has also accused Samsung of infringing patents.

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