US jury clears Apple of infringing wireless tech patents

  • Reuters, New York
  • Updated: Mar 17, 2015 12:26 IST

A federal jury in Texas on Monday said Apple Inc did not infringe five wireless technology patents owned by Canadian patent licensing firm Conversant Intellectual Property Management Inc.

Core Wireless Licensing Sarl, a subsidiary of Ottawa-based Conversant, sued Apple in 2012 in a federal court in Tyler, Texas, alleging the iPhone maker used its patents on wireless data transmission in its iPhones and iPads without permission.

The jury deliberated for about five hours before delivering its verdict on Monday night. The company, whose patents were originally held by Nokia Corp, was seeking $100 million in damages at trial. It said it was entitled to a portion of Apple's device sales, and of similar, future devices. Apple pegged damages, if any, at less than $1 million.

The jury also rejected Apple's claim that Core Wireless breached its obligation to license its patents, which are considered essential in the industry, on fair and non-discriminatory terms.

Conversant acquired Core Wireless and its 2,000 Nokia patents and patent applications in 2011. At the time, as part of an agreement with Nokia, Microsoft Corp had a license to those patents, according to Conversant company documents.

In its purchase of Core Wireless, Conversant agreed to return two-thirds of any revenue from licensing and litigating the patents back to Microsoft and Nokia, according to the documents. A Microsoft representative on Monday night could not confirm whether that agreement was still in force.

When it originally filed the lawsuit, Core Wireless alleged Apple infringed more than a dozen of its patents. But twice last year it removed several patents from the litigation in order to streamline the case, leaving just five at the core of the trial.

Apple is the most targeted company for lawsuits filed by companies that make money through licensing and enforcing their patents rather than making products.

Last month, a jury in the same courthouse in Tyler ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million - one of the largest patent verdicts ever - after it found that the company's iTunes software infringed three patents owned by patent licensing firm Smartflash LLC.

Representatives from Apple and Conversant did not immediately return requests for comment.

The case is Core Wireless Licensing Sarl v. Apple Inc, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, No. 12-cv-100.

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