Apple's $300 million patent fine confirmed ahead of new product launches

Apple says it will continue to defend against "unreasonable payments".
The tech company says it will continue to defend against "unreasonable payments". Photo credit: Getty Images

As Apple gets closer to unveiling its new line-up of iPhones and other product updates the Cupertino-based tech giant has been hit by a US$300 million fine.

In August last year Apple was ordered to pay US$506.2 million in royalties related to 4G connectivity to Optis after a jury found five patents had been infringed.

Judge Rodney Gilstrap ordered a retrial in April this year, but only on how much it was going to cost Apple, with the question of liability not permitted to be re-litigated.

That has resulted in the final bill of US$300 million.

The patents Apple breached had belonged to Samsung, LG and Panasonic in the past but had been acquired by Optis - a company Apple says is a patent troll.

"Optis makes no products and its sole business is to sue companies using patents they accumulate," it said in a statement.

"We will continue to defend against their attempts to extract unreasonable payments for patents they acquire."

But Apple's woes have the potential to be even more costly after Optis sued it in the UK, too. The High Court there ruled in June that Optis's rights had been infringed, leading to Apple suggesting it could quit the UK market over a potential NZ$10 billion fee for breaching two patents.

Justice Meade warned Apple it "might be disappointed" by the final bill, which will be decided in a 2022 trial - but said there was "no evidence" the company would leave the UK.

Apple's lawyer Marie Demetriou disagreed.

"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."

Meanwhile, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman - author of the Power On tech newsletter - has rounded up everything he expects to be launched by Apple over the next few months.

That includes the iPhone 13 range, with a smaller notch at the top of the display, a faster A15 chip and 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate on the Pro versions, as well as better camera functionality.

"The company is expecting one of the biggest iPhone launch cycles ever, projecting the need for over 90 million shipments through calendar 2021 as the world shifts to 5G and economic recoveries spur spending," Gurman wrote.

He also expects a redesigned Apple Watch 7 with a flatter display and faster processor as well as new entry-level AirPods with a shorter stem.

The new iPad mini will be an "Apple fan favourite" he wrote, thanks to its thinner borders and complete redesign - but anyone expecting new M1X-powered MacBook Pros next month could be disappointed.

"Unfortunately, some hiccups have led to production delays for the revamped 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with M1X chips," he wrote, although he expects them on sale by November.