Apple could leave the UK market if it is forced to hand over $7billion (£5billion) to a patent troll, the company lawyer has claimed. The lawyer called the fee “commercially unacceptable” and comes amid the news that Apple could be fined over its use of Optis Cellular Technology patents.
This threat can bring many problems for the iPhone; it can lose its large customer base and might restrict sales of new iPhone models in the UK.
Though the idea of Apple actually quitting the UK seems highly unlikely given it is one of Apple’s major markets and the company has multiple leading stores in London. It won’t be walking away from all this any time soon.
The company basically issued the warning as part of the court encounter with the UK’s patent holder Optis Cellular Technology.
The whole problem started when the iPhone manufacturer declined to pay licence fees costing $7billion for using ‘standardised’ smartphone technology in its products, so Optis took action and filed a suit against Apple for patent violation.
Last month according to the High Court ruling, Apple had allegedly breached two Optis patents that assist the iPhones in connecting to 3G and 4G networks.
Nevertheless, Optis has also come up with a bunch of other allegations regarding the technologies Apple has been using in the past without any permit.
Last year, the UK Supreme Court ruled that a UK court can set the rate Apple should pay for all of its iPhone patents worldwide, even though the court only considers the infringement of UK patents.
Last year, another ruling that disturbed Apple was that the UK Supreme Court said that any decision is made on the amount the iPhone maker must pay would apply worldwide, not just to its UK sales even though it is considering the UK patents only. As a result, Apple would face a trial in 2022 over how much it should pay.
Mr Justice Meade, at a hearing, informed Apple that the company might get a little upset over the amount agreed by the judge.
Apple still has a choice to make at this point; it could easily quit the UK market and not pay the fine at all. But Mr Justice Meade seemed a little dubious, and according to him: “There is no evidence Apple is really going to say no [to paying the rate set by the judge], is there? There is no evidence it is even remotely possible Apple will leave the UK market?”
However, Apple’s lawyer Marie Demetriou responded: “I am not sure that is right… Apple’s position is it should indeed be able to reflect on the terms and decide whether commercially it is right to accept them or to leave the UK market. There may be terms that are set by the court which are just commercially unacceptable.”