Demands from patent trolls – companies that invent nothing, but simply buy up patents in order to demand cash – are just a fact of life for any large company, and Apple doubtless receives hundreds of them each year. Some are, however, audacious than others.
The WSJ reports that German patent troll IPCom is demanding €1.57B ($2.12B) for use technology that is not only used in every mobile phone on the market, its use is required by law.
The chip is used to identify mobile phones used by the emergency services in order to give them priority access to networks when they are heavily congested, such as during a major disaster. Carriers can set their networks to block access to all phones in the vicinity of a major emergency other than those identifying themselves as belonging to police and rescue workers. The chip can be included in the circuitry of either a phone or a SIM.
Apple, Google, HTC, Ericsson and Vodafone had all asked the European Patent Office to declare the patent invalid, as it was part of a required standard. The EPO turned down this request after IPCom said that it had successfully sued other companies, including Nokia.
The case is now going to court, and will be heard on 11th February.