Apple Threatens to Exit the UK Market Over Unfair Patent Licensing Fees

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Apple has threatened to leave the UK market if it is forced to pay £5 billion ($7 billion) to a patent troll. The claim was made by the company’s lawyer in its ongoing court battle against UK patent holder and patent troll Optis Cellular Technology.

UK patent troll Optis Cellular Technology has sued Apple for infringing on two of its patents related to 3G and 4G networks. It has claimed $7 billion in damages, which Apple has refused to pay. A UK high court judge has ruled that Apple has infringed on two patents of Optis Cellular.

A trial is scheduled in 2022 to decide how much Apple should pay Optis for the patent infringement. However, in a hearing in January this year, Mr. Justice Meade has already warned Apple that it might be “disappointed” by the rate set by a judge.

Apple could walk away from the fees if it exits the UK market. But Mr Justice Meade suggested this was unlikely, saying: ‘There is no evidence Apple is really going to say no [to paying the rate set by the judge], is there? There is no evidence it is even remotely possible Apple will leave the UK market?’

Apple’s lawyer Marie Demetriou replied: ‘I am not sure that is right… Apple’s position is it should indeed be able to reflect on the terms and decide whether commercially it is right to accept them or to leave the UK market. There may be terms that are set by the court which are just commercially unacceptable.’

It is very unlikely that Apple will exit the UK market. However, if it does so, it will have the option of not paying the licensing fees that a UK judge decides upon. There’s another court case scheduled for later this month to decide whether Apple should make a legally binding pledge to pay the licensing fees as decided by the court next year. If Apple refuses to make the pledge, it could be banned from selling iPhones in the UK.

Apple’s size frequently makes it a target of patent trolls. Apple is likely to contest the licensing fees and other court rulings in the UK’s Supreme Court, and it is unlikely the company will exit the UK smartphone market due to a patent troll.

[Via This is Money]