Not so long ago, we were telling you about Oracle and its legal battles on the grounds of copyright infringements. While Oracle recently settled for a rather large sum with SAP AG, Apple just lost a lot of money to MTel in an Apple pager patent infringement lawsuit. If you don’t understand why we are talking about pagers, of all extinct gadgets in the world, let us resume the whole story for you.
Once upon a time, in the mid nineties, SkyTel was a pioneer in the field of pager technology, especially when it came to two-way pager networking. The visionary company filed a lot of pager patents between 1992 and 1997, covering the two – way pager communication technology.
SkyTel’s technology and pager patents are owned by Mobile Telecommunications Technologies (MTel). The Apple pager patent infringement lawsuit was generated by MTel claiming that Apple used the pager technology without permission and thus created Apple – signed services, such as iMessenger.
Moreover, MTel made its case on the claim that Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, together with the Apple Airport Wi-Fi routers, infringed the SkyTel patents. In matters of money claims, MTel demanded Apple to pay $1 for every infringing device sold in the last six years. According to Apple lawyers, the total damages amount raised to the mind-blowing sum of $237.2m.
On Monday, however, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas decided that Apple should pay MTel a fine of $23.6m, as Apple was found guilty as charged. According to people familiar with the matter,
“This particular sum was settled upon after the jury came to the conclusion that Apple had actually infringed five out of six patents which were earlier granted to SkyTel network some time in the 1990s, and these patents are actually part of MTel’s portfolio at the moment.”
Win some, lose some, this is the conclusion we can draw from this Apple pager patent infringement lawsuit. The tech giant won a similar lawsuit in 2011, against GPNE. This company claimed that Apple used their pager patents without permission and asked Apple to pay $94m in damages. Described by Apple lawyers as a “patent troll with no active business other than patent litigation”, GPNE didn’t get a dime from Apple.
However, in the MTel case, Apple couldn’t play the same old tune it always plays when it comes to the originality of its ideas:
“Apple invents products that revolutionize industries, and relies upon the US patent system to protect our innovation.”
This time, the jury found clear evidence that Apple indeed used five out of six MTel pager patents without giving anybody any credit for them. Both companies declared they were satisfied with the Apple pager patent infringement lawsuit outcome, even if MTel receives only a tenth of what it claimed.