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Apple Wins Dismissal of $2.2 Billion German Patent Suit

An Apple Inc. iPhone 5 is seen in Berlin
The company was seeking 1.57 billion euros in damages from Apple for its use in the iPhone in Germany alone. The sum sought for using the technology in iPad tablets hasn’t yet been specified. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. won the dismissal of a 1.57 billion-euro ($2.2 billion) lawsuit in Germany over technology used to decide priority for calls on mobile networks.

Apple doesn’t infringe two patents asserted by IPCom GmbH & Co KG, a court in Mannheim ruled today, without giving the reasoning for its decision. HTC Corp. also won dismissal of a related IPCom claim over one of the patents.

The rulings are a blow to Munich-based patent holding company IPCom which has sued mobile-device makers over technology it acquired from Robert Bosch GmbH in 2007. The “100” series patents, which also apply to methods helping to place emergency calls, are the central piece of its portfolio.

IPCom, which doesn’t make any products, is one of a group of firms that license its patents and file lawsuits to generate revenue, earning the moniker “patent trolls” from its targets. Apple was among 19 companies and associations that petitioned the European Union in a letter this week to weaken the ability of non-manufacturers to win injunctions in intellectual-property cases.

“IPCom’s story has come to an end” with the ruling, said Martin Chakraborty, HTC’s attorney.

The European patent in today’s case against Apple, called “100A” by IPCom, was struck down by the European Patent Office in 2012 after Apple, Nokia Oyj, HTC, Ericsson AB and Vodafone Group Plc contested it. IPCom appealed and was granted a rehearing. Last month, the European Patent Office upheld the intellectual property while narrowing its scope.

IPCom Appeal

IPCom will file an appeal, Bernhard Frohwitter, its managing director, said in an e-mailed statement.

“We are more than astonished by the dismissal especially because this court, just like other courts in Germany and the U.K., found a myriad of infringements of the 100A patent,” he said.

In a hearing earlier this month in the Apple case, Presiding Judge Holger Kircher said the patent’s new wording requires a fresh examination and the judges may deviate from a 2011 ruling finding Nokia liable because the patent had a different scope.

Apple spokesman Martin Kuderna declined to comment.

In a separate ruling as part of the IPCom case against Taoyuan-based HTC, the court said it will review a newly introduced argument by the German company separately.

IPCom argues device makers and phone companies are using the technology in the 3G wireless standard. The company was seeking 1.57 billion euros in damages from Apple for its use in the iPhone in Germany alone. The sum sought for using the technology in iPad tablets hasn’t yet been specified.

Today’s cases against Apple are: LG Mannheim, 2 O 53/12 and 2 O 95/13. The HTC case is LG Mannheim, 76 O 30/12.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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