Regulation & Government

Apple wins latest patent dispute round with Optis

According to Pinsent Masons, the Court of Appeal’s judgement represents a 'significant victory' for Apple in its long-running dispute with Optis

Apple has successfully argued that it is not responsible for infringing a patent for technology that supports continued connectivity during mobile phone calls.

While the Court of Appeal rejected Apple’s claims that the patent owned by telecoms company Optis Cellular Technology was invalid, it accepted its case that the patent was not “essential” to a communications standard and that it had not infringed the patent.

According to Pinsent Masons, the Court of Appeal’s judgement represents a “significant victory” for Apple in its long-running dispute with Optis. 

The dispute has already played out across a number of different patent trials between the two companies which concern patents from Optis’ portfolio.

The Court of Appeal judgement related to a patent regarding the process of ‘handover’ between different radio access technologies, such as 2G, 3G and 4G. 

Phone calls or data connections can be disrupted if there is not a seamless handover between the different technologies when devices are being used are in transit and connectivity to one technology begins to weaken.

Optis’ patent specifically refers to handover between GSM, a communication standard for 2G connectivity, and UMTS, a standard for 3G connectivity, but its claims were not limited to handovers between those technologies only.

Optis had been successful in convincing the High Court that Apple had infringed its patent in relation to the handover from GSM to LTE, which is one of the standards for 4G connectivity. However, the Court of Appeal has now overturned the High Court’s decision.

In its earlier ruling in the case, the High Court had found that Optis’ patent was “essential” to the implementation of a 2G standard.

Sarah Taylor, patent litigation expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “This is an important victory for Apple in this extensive dispute. The next 12 months look to be increasingly crucial for the parties, with the final technical trial, Trial D, due to take place in January, followed by the FRAND trial, at which the court will determine any FRAND licence rates, in June 2022.”    

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