German court tosses patent troll's $2.2B patent suit against Apple

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2014
A German court on Friday threw out two patent lawsuits leveled against Apple by non-practicing IP licensing firm IPCom, one of which sought $2.2 billion in damages over alleged infringement of a wireless patent.

IPCom
IPCom's spartan webpage is common among so-called "patent trolls." | Source: IPCom


The pair of dismissals came as part of three separate rulings from two chambers of the Mannheim Regional Court, each involving "patent troll" IPCom, reports FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller. The third case, which was also thrown out, was brought against HTC and pertains to the same patent family used against Apple.

According to Mueller, IPCom has been attempting to monetize a patent portfolio covering standard-essential patents (SEPs) purchased from Bosch after the German engineering and electronics company pulled out of the car phone industry. The properties involve 3G/UMTS wireless technology.

IPCom will have the chance to appeal, but Mueller believes defendants will continue to push for invalidity of European patent EP1841268 and related properties. The patent family has been used against Apple, HTC, Nokia, Ericsson, Vodafone and others. For example, HTC's dismissed case involved IPCom's assertion of German patent DE19910239.

So far, IPCom has been somewhat unsuccessful in its damages claims, but the firm has chalked up at least one win in a settlement from Deutsche Telekom in 2013.

As noted in a previous report regarding the German case, Apple has joined with other tech giants in an effort to curb patent abuse. Along with Yahoo, Intel, Cisco and Facebook, Apple has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stifle the onslaught of thoughtless lawsuits from patent trolls by leveling penalties against failed litigation. Requests have also been sent to the EU regarding patent-related litigation issues.

Currently, firms like IPCom can bring suit against large corporations with little concern of losing as the repercussions are minuscule compared to the potential gain from a settlement or win. In many cases, companies opt to settle in a bid to avoid costly court fees or damages, further enabling patent trolls to level even more claims.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,583member
    Exactly the proper outcome IMO. It's unfortunate that a company has to spend a $100 thousand and more to get patent troll claims dismissed.
  • Reply 2 of 34
    To stop these NPE's in their tracks, those suits that get tossed the plaintifs/ trolls should be forced to pay stiff penalties upon having their suits tossed.
  • Reply 3 of 34
    To stop these NPE's in their tracks, those suits that get tossed the plaintifs/ trolls should be forced to pay stiff penalties upon having their suits tossed.
    That's similar to what the US is proposing with patent reform.

    There's nothing wrong with being an NPE - patents are assets and you have every right to monetize them. I wouldn't call IPcom a patent troll just because they are an NPE. They had a real patent and went through the courts to monetize it and lost.

    What defines a patent troll is someone who abuses the system. For example, seeking injunctions when you have no products the other party could also try to block. Or sending vague demand letters without clearly specifying which products infringe, how they infringe and which patent they infringe.

    This is why Rockstar isn't a patent troll. All these things (and others being proposed) are already part of the procedures they follow.
  • Reply 4 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,583member

    What defines a patent troll is someone who abuses the system. For example, seeking injunctions when you have no products the other party could also try to block. Or sending vague demand letters without clearly specifying which products infringe, how they infringe and which patent they infringe.

    This is why Rockstar isn't a patent troll. All these things (and others being proposed) are already part of the procedures they follow.

    So as long as you don't seek an injunction you can't be a patent troll? (Copy/Fax machines anyone?) :err: The fact you had to carve out an oddly worded exception and then mention Rockstar at all shows you can see how they're might be considered one.

    FWIW among the accusations lodged against Rockstar and it's assorted baby-NPE's in training is that they are unspecific in their infringement claims, "concealing the true owners of patents from the Nortel Patent Portfolio, and concealing the complete list of patents (they) believe are infringed".

    Even by your definition then Rockstar and its spawn might be patent trolls.

    http://www.essentialpatentblog.com/2014/01/rockstar-sued-by-arris-who-manufactures-equipment-sold-to-cable-operators-involved-in-rockstar-litigation/
  • Reply 5 of 34
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,562member

    This is the problem with this whole Patent suing game the trolls play, The tactic is to go after small player or ones which do not have their own IP and get them to agree to settle, Once that happen and they try and make big head lines about the settlement. Then they go after the big fish, if it does go to court the troll use the fact that others settle as the reason they have a case with merit. Apple had trolls use this tactic against them as well. However, Apple has some very deep pocket and they hired the best law firms around so they end up winning more times than not. When apple wins, it set a precedent that these company will have a hard time going after other companies as well

  • Reply 6 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

    Apple has some very deep pocket and they hired the best law firms around so they end up winning more times than not.


    I'm glad that Apple has lots of money, hires the best lawyers, and that is why they usually win.

  • Reply 7 of 34

    One very interesting note not being mentioned by many is, "Samsung, Google lawyers to represent patent licensing firm in tomorrow's $2 billion Apple trial". Here is the link to the story... http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/02/samsung-google-lawyers-to-represent.html.

     

    So, when reading articles like, "Hit with another $2B damage claim, Apple joins Google in pressing Supreme Court to curb patent abuse", I see Apple attempting to force Google to stop pretending to be a defender against patent abuse in the United States while simultaneously supporting the IPCom patent case in Germany. The same goes for Samsung.

     

    As far as I know, Google and Samsung had nothing to do with the case, but chose to align themselves with a patent troll against Apple. Since IPCom, Google and Samsung lost the case (which can be appealed), it would be great if the judge forced IPCom, Google and Samsung to pay Apple's legal bill.

  • Reply 8 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SudoNym View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

    Apple has some very deep pocket and they hired the best law firms around so they end up winning more times than not.


    I'm glad that Apple has lots of money, hires the best lawyers, and that is why they usually win.




    Yes, it also helps to have enough money to buy a President.

  • Reply 9 of 34
    <p>One very interesting note not being mentioned by many is, "Samsung, Google lawyers to represent patent licensing firm in tomorrow's $2 billion Apple trial<span style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51); text-align:justify">". Here is the link to the story... </span>http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/02/samsung-google-lawyers-to-represent.html.</p><p> </p><p>So, when reading articles like, "Hit with another $2B damage claim, Apple joins Google in pressing Supreme Court to curb patent abuse", I see Apple attempting to force Google to stop pretending to be a defender against patent abuse in the United States while simultaneously supporting the IPCom patent case in Germany. The same goes for Samsung.</p><p> </p><p><span style="line-height:1.4em">As far as I know, Google and Samsung had nothing to do with the case, but chose to align themselves with a patent troll against Apple. Since IPCom, Google and Samsung </span>lost the case (which can be appealed), it would be great if the judge forced IPCom, Google and Samsung to pay Apple's legal bill.</p>
    unless I'm misreading the the article you linked I didnt see any solicitors acting on google and samsungs behalf. Law firms that have acted on behalf of google and samsung in other cases but not in this case.
  • Reply 10 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,583member
    One very interesting note not being mentioned by many is, "Samsung, Google lawyers to represent patent licensing firm in tomorrow's $2 billion Apple trial". Here is the link to the story... http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/02/samsung-google-lawyers-to-represent.html.

    So, when reading articles like, "Hit with another $2B damage claim, Apple joins Google in pressing Supreme Court to curb patent abuse", I see Apple attempting to force Google to stop pretending to be a defender against patent abuse in the United States while simultaneously supporting the IPCom patent case in Germany. The same goes for Samsung.

    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">As far as I know, Google and Samsung had nothing to do with the case, but chose to align themselves with a patent troll against Apple. Since IPCom, Google and Samsung </span>
    lost the case (which can be appealed), it would be great if the judge forced IPCom, Google and Samsung to pay Apple's legal bill.

    Google did not align themselves with IPCom against HTC (yup they were sued too) and Apple and have no investment in any of the law-firms representing them. Mr. Mueller could have just as needlessly said "IBM lawyers to represent IPComm", or substituted them for Oracle, Qualcomm, Sony or several other techs who are also QE clients. I wouldn't have expected any less from Florian tho. He seldom misses an opportunity to negatively connect Google to an otherwise unrelated case if he can find a way. :rolleyes:

    More tin-foil. . .
  • Reply 11 of 34

    Quote:


    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    So as long as you don't seek an injunction you can't be a patent troll? (Copy/Fax machines anyone?) image The fact you had to carve out an oddly worded exception and then mention Rockstar at all shows you can see how they're might be considered one.



    FWIW among the accusations lodged against Rockstar and it's assorted baby-NPE's in training is that they are unspecific in their infringement claims, "concealing the true owners of patents from the Nortel Patent Portfolio, and concealing the complete list of patents (they) believe are infringed".



    Even by your definition then Rockstar and its spawn might be patent trolls.



    http://www.essentialpatentblog.com/2014/01/rockstar-sued-by-arris-who-manufactures-equipment-sold-to-cable-operators-involved-in-rockstar-litigation/

     

    I clearly said "all these things (and others being proposed)". You accuse me of "carving out an oddly worded exception" then turn around yourself and do the same thing? Of course, what else would you expect from the resident concern troll with a proven track record of intentionally being obtuse in your posts?

     

    Here's what Rockstar does that's different from "real" patent trolls:

     

    - They have a staff of engineers that reverse engineer and examine products to look for infringement. Trolls only employ lawyers. They don't get to the "engineering and examination" phase until someone calls their bluff and they actually have to start providing evidence for use in court. Rockstar gathers the evidence BEFORE they contact an infringer. HUGE difference.

    - They clearly identify infringing products and identify which patents are involved.

    - They attempt to negotiate before actually going to court.

    - When filing court cases they are specific about the patents and how they are used.

     

    Of course the people being sued by Rockstar are going to complain. The phrase "patent troll" is a hot topic and people love throwing it around regarding anyone filing a lawsuit (there are even idiots who claim Apple or Microsoft are patent trolls, which is absolutely 100% false). But it's nice for some people to be able to categorize companies they dislike by using the latest "buzzword/insult" label on them.

     

    And did you actually use the example of trolls sending demand letters for a couple thousand dollars to everyone using a copy/fax machine? What a STUPID argument. Yeah, Rockstar preparing their case and approaching a multi-billion dollar company is EXACTLY the same as a small-time troll trying to shake down independent small businesses.

  • Reply 12 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by singularity View Post





    unless I'm misreading the the article you linked I didnt see any solicitors acting on google and samsungs behalf. Law firms that have acted on behalf of google and samsung in other cases but not in this case.

    Under the "Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Apple) section... Tomorrow they are going to face some of Samsung and Google's lawyers, who also do a fair amount of work for IPCom, once again.

  • Reply 13 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    Google did not align themselves with IPCom against HTC and Apple and have no investment in any of the law-firms representing them. image More tin-foil. . .

    I did not mention HTC just Apple. Under the "Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Apple) section... "Tomorrow they are going to face some of Samsung and Google's lawyers, who also do a fair amount of work for IPCom, once again." Try again. :smokey:

  • Reply 14 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,583member
    I did not mention HTC just Apple. Under the "Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Apple) section... "Tomorrow they are going to face some of Samsung and Google's lawyers, who also do a fair amount of work for IPCom, once again." Try again. :smokey:

    IPComm was also suing HTC alongside Apple in Germany for the same patents if I read it correctly. Sad to see you fall so easily for Mr. Mueller's wordplay, as tho Google in-house attorneys are involved. If you'd read a bit more carefully you should have noted that he was referring to an independent law-firm, Quinn-Emanuel, who has also represented dozens of other tech firms, Google being just one of them.
  • Reply 15 of 34
    <div class="quote-container" data-huddler-embed="/t/162221/german-court-tosses-patent-trolls-2-2b-patent-suit-against-apple#post_2479209" data-huddler-embed-placeholder="false">Quote:<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>singularity</strong> <a href="/t/162221/german-court-tosses-patent-trolls-2-2b-patent-suit-against-apple#post_2479209"><img alt="View Post" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" /></a><br /><br /><br />unless I'm misreading the the article you linked I didnt see any solicitors acting on google and samsungs behalf. Law firms that have acted on behalf of google and samsung in other cases but not in this case.</div></div><p><span style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51)">Under the "Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Apple) section... Tomorrow they are going to face some of Samsung and Google's lawyers, who also do a fair amount of work for IPCom, once again.</span></p>
    you mean the law firms that those companies have hired but arent actually part of the company just like hengeler mueller. Your merging hired law firms with separate companies
  • Reply 16 of 34
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    So as long as you don't seek an injunction you can't be a patent troll? (Copy/Fax machines anyone?) :err: The fact you had to carve out an oddly worded exception and then mention Rockstar at all shows you can see how they're might be considered one.

    FWIW among the accusations lodged against Rockstar and it's assorted baby-NPE's in training is that they are unspecific in their infringement claims, "concealing the true owners of patents from the Nortel Patent Portfolio, and concealing the complete list of patents (they) believe are infringed".

    Even by your definition then Rockstar and its spawn might be patent trolls.

    http://www.essentialpatentblog.com/2014/01/rockstar-sued-by-arris-who-manufactures-equipment-sold-to-cable-operators-involved-in-rockstar-litigation/

    Rockstar is not considered a patent troll. The patents are owned by practicing entities, and the previous owner, also a practing entity sought licenses for the patents.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,583member
    tbell wrote: »
    Rockstar is not considered a patent troll. The patents are owned by practicing entities, and the previous owner, also a practing entity sought licenses for the patents.
    Quote:

    I clearly said "all these things (and others being proposed)". You accuse me of "carving out an oddly worded exception" then turn around yourself and do the same thing? Of course, what else would you expect from the resident concern troll with a proven track record of intentionally being obtuse in your posts?

    Here's what Rockstar does that's different from "real" patent trolls:

    - They have a staff of engineers that reverse engineer and examine products to look for infringement. Trolls only employ lawyers. They don't get to the "engineering and examination" phase until someone calls their bluff and they actually have to start providing evidence for use in court. Rockstar gathers the evidence BEFORE they contact an infringer. HUGE difference.
    - They clearly identify infringing products and identify which patents are involved.
    - They attempt to negotiate before actually going to court.
    - When filing court cases they are specific about the patents and how they are used.

    Just to be clear then if

    - an NPE has a qualified person identifying potential infringers and the products involved
    - they send a demand letter in advance identifying the offended patent(s)
    - they make a licensing demand
    - and they file a lawsuit specifying the infringement and patents involved

    they can't be termed a troll? Perhaps you could offer a named example of an NPE suing Apple, Google, Microsoft or other large tech who does qualify as a troll. It would certainly help in understanding the difference between a "real" troll and a "fake" troll.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,583member
    tbell wrote: »
    Rockstar is not considered a patent troll. The patents are owned by practicing entities, and the previous owner, also a practing entity sought licenses for the patents.

    The patents are not owned by practicing entities. Rockstar themselves may be owned by a several different investors but ownership of the IP was transferred to Rockstar who has sold and/or transferred some of them to yet other NPE's. No specific investor has ownership of Rockstar Consortium's patents. They only serve as investors and supposedly consultants. As an attorney (if I remember right) I would have expected you to know the difference.

    Let me give you a simple example. If Sergey Brin is an Apple investor (I'd be surprised if he isn't!) and some of Apple's executive team are Google investors (again surprised if they aren't) and Bill Gates owns some of both does it give any of them control over the others IP?
  • Reply 19 of 34
    taniwha wrote: »

    Yes, it also helps to have enough money to buy a President.

    Methinks I smelleth a red herring...
  • Reply 20 of 34
    It's good the major tech companies are banding together to stop patent trolls at least. I mean legitimate ones of course, they're just wasting the court's time. I don't think IPCom is necessarily a troll either, it's important to protect what you patent. I just don't see these lawsuits stopping anytime soon though.
Sign In or Register to comment.