A patent case currently under dispute in the UK court could result in a fine of up to $ 7 billion for Apple. The tech giant is now saying that a withdrawal from the country is possible if it comes to that. The case revolves around some patents from Optis Cellular Technology and about $ 7 billion in licenses Apple [OR2V:LSE] refuses to pay for using what the tech giant calls “standardized” smartphone technology.
Optis is a patent holder in the United Kingdom whose main income comes from litigation over those patents, sometimes called a ‘patent troll’. The UK Supreme Court ruled last month that Apple [OR2V:LSE] is infringing two of Optis ‘ patents on the technology on which the company’s devices connect to communications networks. Apple was also sentenced to pay a fine in Texas last year. At that time, it had to pay $ 506 million to PanOptis, a sister company of Optis Cellular Technology, for the use of some patents around 4G technology. The reason the fine in the UK can be so high is because a judge previously indicated that the UK court can collect fines for breaking Optis patents worldwide, not just in the UK.
The lawsuit to determine how much Apple will eventually pay starts in July 2022. Marie Demetriou, Apple’s lawyer in the case, now says it is possible that Apple [OR2V:LSE] will leave the UK if the lawsuit makes it ‘commercially unacceptable’ for the tech giant to still sell devices in the country. Indeed, the company could avoid any conditions and fines by no longer having commercial activities in the UK.
This, for the sake of clarity, is probably a boast and a possible threat to obtain more favourable conditions. Apple employs hundreds of thousands of people in its App Stores across the country, so that’s a lot of employment that would fall away. However, there is very little chance that Apple will actually leave a large market like the UK.