Apple will have to pay a patent holding firm called Acacia a penalty of $22 million, a federal jury in East Texas decided this week. The issue is over a patent dispute, which is all to common for Apple, regarding cellular network technology.
Reuters reports that a subsidiary of Acacia Research brought the case against Apple which played out in Texas court as is common with similar cases:
Apple Inc must pay a subsidiary of Acacia Research Corp, a large patent licensing company, $22.1 million after a federal jury in Tyler, Texas on Wednesday found that it had willfully infringed a cellular network-related patent.
The jury also said that Apple did not prove that the patent was invalid. A finding of willfulness allows the presiding judge, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nicole Mitchell, to boost damages by up to three times, at her discretion.
For its part, Acacia Research is what some in the technology world would describe as a patent troll. Wikipedia’s entry for the firm details that the company is a “non-practicing entity because the company derives revenue from licenses and lawsuits rather than from building products.”
According to the company, it has returned over $705,000,000 to patent owners. The corporation creates a subsidiary company for each set of patents it enforces. Currently, 95% of the company’s business involves partnering with inventors and patent holders.It currently has 180 known subsidiaries and 257 active cases as of September 2014, four of which are not through a subsidiary.
While the space between legal cases and patent law as it relates to technology is a highly complicated one, which makes it difficult to judge cases like Apple’s $22.1 million loss this week, there was a Supreme Court decision we reported on earlier this year that could make it more difficult for patent trolls to target companies like Apple in the future.