Apple could quit UK market over $10 billion patent row, claims lawyer

There may be "commercially unacceptable" terms that force Apple's hand, its lawyer says.
There may be "commercially unacceptable" terms that force Apple's hand, its lawyer says Photo credit: Getty Images

Tech giant Apple could quit the UK market over a potential NZ$10 billion licensing row, its lawyer has indicated.

The company is faced with paying the astronomical fee for the rights to use two patents belonging to Optis Cellular Technology, reports This Is Money.

Optis sued Apple for patent infringement after it refused to pay the multi-billion dollar fees for using "standardised" technology it holds the UK patents for.

Those patents help iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches connect to 3G and 4G networks, with a High Court judge ruling last month Apple had infringed Optis's rights.

It's related to similar legal action in the US which resulted in a US$506 million fine for the Cupertino-based company, which was successfully appealed.

The company will face a trial in the UK in 2022 over the final bill for infringement, with Justice Meade warning Apple it "might be disappointed" by the amount set.

But he poured scorn on the suggestion it could make Apple quit.

"'There is no evidence Apple is really going to say no, is there? There is no evidence it is even remotely possible Apple will leave the UK market," he said.

Apple's lawyer Marie Demetriou disagreed with the justice, saying she wasn't sure that was correct.

"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."

A separate court case later this month will decide whether Apple has to make a legal pledge to accept the final infringement bill.

The company could be banned from selling its infringing gadgets in the UK if it refuses to make that undertaking, This Is Money reported.