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Apple beats off troll in German patent fracas

Court saves Cupertino from $2bn raid on its $159bn cash hoard

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A court in Mannheim, Germany, has ruled in Apple's favor in a patent-infringement lawsuit brought by patent troll non-practicing entity IPCom of Munich.

The patents in question were European patent EP1841268 and German patent DE19910239, both acquired by IPCom from Bosch in 2007 along with hundreds of others, and both related to determining priority for calls on mobile networks, Bloomberg reports.

IPCom had demanded €1.57bn ($2.17bn) in "partial" damages for infringement on the patents in iPhones in Germany alone. Not that a two-billion bite would have damaged Apple all that much – as of their most recent financial report they had $159bn in cash and securities – but after all, it was the principle of the thing.

IPCom had also asserted patent DE19910239 against HTC, but lost that case in the same Friday decision as well. "IPCom's story has come to an end," said HTC attorney Martin Chakraborty.

Hardly. "We are more than astonished by the dismissal especially because this court, just like other courts in Germany and the UK, found a myriad of infringements of the 100A patent," IPC managing director Bernhard Frohwitter told Bloomberg, referring to the European patent. Frohwitter said that his company would appeal the decision.

IPCom, as a non-practicing entity, doesn't create any products or services – other than patent litigation. According to its website, it owns more than 1,000 patents registered in Europe, the US, and Asia related to mobile communications, and was founded in 2007 "to establish a bridge between patent developers and patent users."

With a portfolio that large, expect IPCom to cross that bridge into court many more times in the future. ®

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