Bloomberg reports that a federal jury has found Apple guilty of infringing on six patents related to outdated pager technology from the 1990s. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has ordered Apple to pay a $23.6 million settlement for violating six patents owned by plaintiff Mobile Telecommunications Technologies LLC in the case.
Mobile Telecommunications Technologies claimed that several Apple products with wireless messaging were violating the pager technology, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Airport lineup of Wi-Fi products. Apple won a similar case over pager technology, involving a different company, last month in a California court.
“Apple is refusing to acknowledge the contributions of others,” MTel lawyer Deron Dacus of the Dacus Firm in Tyler, Texas, told the jury in closing arguments. “This case is about fairness.”
The report claims that the patents involved in this case were issued to MTel in the mid-to-late 1990s and either newly expired or are nearing the end of their terms. The telecommunications company was considered a pioneer in wireless messaging with its SkyTel two-way paging system in the 1990s, and the company now serves as the licensing arm of United Wireless.
The Lewisville, Texas-based company was originally seeking $237.2 million in damages, or about $1 per device. Given that the patents in this case are related to the transmission and storing of messages, it is possible that MTel could now go after other tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook that have similar messaging services.
Apple denied infringing the patents because they did not cover any innovations when they were first issued. Apple lawyer Brian Ferguson reportedly told the jury that MTel was entitled to $1 million at the most.
In related news, we learned last week that Apple will have to face a federal lawsuit over text messages getting lost when switching from Apple’s iMessage to a standard text messaging service. The news came just days after Apple introduced a tool to help users remove phone numbers from the iMessage system.