"I am astonished at the amount of the claim," said Anselm Brandi-Dohrn, a patent attorney with von Boetticher law firm in Berlin. "Because an amount of this size has been raised not by a direct competitor but by a patent troll not active on the market, I think judges will look closely at the brief and reasoning for it."
Judges at Mannheim Regional Court in southwestern Germany will decide Friday whether Apple will have to pay out over the patent of a technical feature owned by IPCom, a firm that owns more than 1,200 patents.
The patents involve ways to manage priority emergency access when wireless networks are overloaded. The technology must be used in cellphone manufacturing here, and companies are supposed to pay a licensing fee to IPCom for its use, IPCom says. IPCom claims that Apple has not paid the fee.
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"As we in Germany don't have anything like punitive damages, which would have been quite common for these types of cases in the U.S., here the damages are only actual damages, mostly from a fictitious license fee," said Brandi-Dohrn. "It is what Apple would have paid as a reasonable license fee if they had taken out a license from the patent owner."
Apple has said it has been sued 92 times by patent companies in the last two years, and it has more than 220 unresolved patent claims, according to Bloomberg News, and has to employ two lawyers to respond to royalty demands its says are frivolous.
Companies such as IPCom have been criticized because they own a portfolio of patents, although they're not using them in industrial processes — making money instead from license fees, royalties and enforcing patents.
However, a spokesman for the firm rebuked the criticism, saying that the value of patents were made transparent by companies such as IPCom, rather than by the technology companies themselves, which used them for "blackmail."
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