German court dismisses $2 billion lawsuit against Apple by patent troll

patent trolls

A German court has dismissed the $2.2 billion lawsuit filed against Apple by IPCom, a known patent troll company. They were suing Apple and claiming that they were owed damages for the inclusion of technology, for which they own the patent for, in the iPhone that all mobile phones are required by law to have.

IPCom is the literal definition of a patent troll, since their company does not produce or manufacture products of any kind, and instead just buys up patents, of which they have over 1,200, and make their money through licensing those patents or suing other companies that use them.

I have no problem with a lawsuit over a patent that was unjustly violated, but in this case IPCom sued Apple for using technology in their phone that allows emergency services to cut through heavy mobile traffic during a crisis situation. The judge dismissed the lawsuit as well as another which was filed against HTC.

Of course this isn’t the end of IPCom’s story, as HTC’s attorney,¬†Martin Chakraborty, believes. The patent troll company still plans on filing an appeal.

[via GigaOM]

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  • Mike S.

    [@naveed] Funny that you write that–that’s one of the revisions to the law being considered. Especially given how quickly technology changes nowadays (as versus 200 years ago), it seems to me that something like that is called for.

  • naveed

    This is probably simplistic – but I think there should be a law something to the effect of: if you file a patent and don’t have a product in the market by 5 years (or whatever reasonable number), it becomes public. Many patents are just squats on obvious things (rounded corners, anyone?) – yes, there are genuine ideas by hard work and people who’ve done this should be rewarded for their work, but it’s not right if they are going to sit on it and not let anyone else use it, more so if it’s a an evolutionary idea – one that is a natural evolution of existing ideas.

  • Mike S.

    OK, Jeff, you write that you don’t object to someone enforcing justified patent rights, but then you call the plaintiff here a pejorative “troll.” Did you look at the underlying case facts to see if this really was a case of “troll”-like behavior, or might perhaps have been justified as a lawsuit? As a general matter, in the future, might it be better to switch to the more neutral term, “Non-practicing entity,” or something not so incendiary, unless there are facts showing otherwise?

    In the end, non-practicing entities buy the patent rights of others, many of whom–such as small inventors–would not be in a position to enforce their patent rights in expensive lawsuits. As such, non-practicing entities can serve a real service, when the system “works right” and is not being abused.

    In other words, a “troll” is not always a troll, despite the headline-grabbing nature of the term.