Consumer Electronics

Apple Beats Back Patent Case in German Court

Paul Ausick

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Source: courtesy of Apple Inc.
A regional court in Mannheim, Germany, dismissed a $2 billion claim against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) made by IPCom, a Germany-based patent-owning company. The court also rejected similar charges against Taiwan-based HTC Corp. The dismissal was made without comments.

IPCom was founded in 2007 to license patents from the portfolio of more than 1,000 that it says it owns. The firm claims it owns standards-essential patents in 35 patent families that are “key mobile communications standards” for a variety of wireless protocols, up to and including 3G.

According to the Wall Street Journal, IPCom bought its patents from Robert Bosch GmbH, and U.S. investment management firm Fortress Investment Group LLC (NYSE: FIG) owns about 50% of the German company.

IPCom has also sued Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Vodafone PLC (NASDAQ: VOD) for unlicensed use of a patent that gives priority access to emergency and security services communications even when a network is saturated.

Earlier this month, Apple and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) led a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court that would make it easier for companies that successfully defend themselves against patent claims to collect attorney’s fees from the losing patent holders. Both Apple and Google have been sued nearly 200 times in the past five years by firms commonly called patent trolls that derive most of their revenues from licensing and enforcing patents.

A report to President Obama last June noted that 62% of all patent infringement suits filed in the prior two years were brought by patent trolls. More than 100,000 companies were threatened with patent infringement lawsuits in 2012 alone.