On August 11, a jury in the Eastern District of Texas found that Apple Inc. infringed several patents owned by Optis Wireless Technology, LLC and other plaintiffs that pertain to 4G LTE technology. The jury held that Apple is liable to pay over $506 million dollars in royalties for past sales.
This was the first in-person jury trial for a patent infringement case since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, lawyers for Optis told The Dallas Morning News. The seven-day trial was held before District Judge Rodney Gilstrap. The plaintiffs specifically argued Apple was infringing five patents by offering 4G LTE abilities on its signature products: the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Apple pushed to have the trial delayed due to COVID-19 concerns but Judge Gilstrap believed the risks would be mitigated by daily sanitation of the courtroom. He did allow a witness to testify via video from Europe.
This patent infringement case was originally filed in February of 2019. The plaintiff, Optis Wireless, stated it had “repeatedly negotiated with Apple to reach an agreement for a global FRAND license to the Plaintiffs’ patent portfolios which Apple is infringing.” Since the negotiations were unsuccessful and because Apple refused to pay a “FRAND royalty for a license” for Optics patents, the lawsuit was filed. The five patents that the jury decided were infringed by Apple included: U.S. Patent Nos. 8,019,332; 8,385,284; 8,411,557; 9,001,774; and 8,102,833. The jury found that on nine specific claims Apple did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that any of the asserted claims were invalid.
The jury additionally found infringement was willful, which provides Judge Gilstrap the option to increase the amount the jury found Apple liable for. In a statement, Apple commented on the suit and pledged to appeal. “Lawsuits like this by companies who accumulate patents simply to harass the industry only serve to stifle innovation and harm consumers,” Apple said, arguing that the patents are invalid.
Apple was represented by Wilmer Hale, Sidley Austin, Walker Stevens Cannom Yang and Gillam & Smith as local counsel. Plaintiffs were represented by Irell & Manella, Caldwell Cassady & Curry, McKool Smith, and Gray Reed & McGraw.