Apple settles out of court just hours before patent trial

Apple has struck an out-of-court settlement with US tech company Unwired Planet, just hours before a trial was set to begin. Unwired Planet had sought a $33million payout, as well as a percentage of future iPhone and iPad sales, in relation to a patent dispute.

Apple had previously described the case as being ‘frivolous’, however they were clearly keen to avoid a court hearing. As with all out-of-court settlements, the amount and terms of the deal have not been made public.

Nevada-based Unwired Planet – who formerly developed mobile software under the name Openwave Systems – have a history of winning high-profile litigation cases, having already beaten Huawei and Samsung over similar patent disputes. The firm is also involved in on going disputes with Google and HTC over patent violations.

The company has sometimes been labelled as a ‘patent troll’ for the way that it goes about securing the rights to technologies. In the Apple case, the technology in question was acquired through a controversial deal with Ericsson, which sees the Swedish telecoms firm receive a cut of future revenues generated from the patent.

A spokesman for Unwired dismissed the claims and insisted that its objective was to bring ‘fairness to patent licensing’. "Our ambition is to bring efficiency and fairness to patent licensing and create a marketplace where product manufacturers and innovators feel confident that high quality technology is available at a fair and reasonable price," he said.

"Over the past nine months since we acquired the Unwired Planet patent portfolio, we have actively resolved a majority of the existing litigation that had been initiated by Unwired Planet, including suits involving Samsung, LG and Apple."

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