Court of Appeal rules in Optis mobile phone patent case

November 19, 2021

 The Court of Appeal has ruled in the case of Optis Cellular Technlogy LLC & Ors v Apple Retail UK Ltd & Ors (Rev1) [2021] EWCA Civ 1619. It upheld the decision of the Patents Court that a telecommunications patent owned by Optis was valid. However, it reversed the decisions that the patent was standards essential and infringed by Apple.

The invention described and claimed in the patent related to handover between different Radio Access Technologies such as GSM (2G) and UMTS (3G). There was previous litigation about it in the case of Unwired Planet International Ltd v Huawei Technologies Co, Ltd and others [2016] EWHC 576 (Pat). In that case the judge had also found that it was valid and essential.  However, there were new issues in this case which meant it was necessary to consider the matter again.

First instance decision

The Patents Court had held that a patent relating to mobile phones was valid and essential to various GSM standards, and therefore Apple devices operating under those standards infringed the patent.  Apple’s claim for revocation failed and Optis’s claim for infringement succeeded.

Apple appeal

Apple appealed on two grounds: invalidity and essentiality and infringement.

The Court of Appeal’s decision

The Court of Appeal ruled that the Patents Court was right to rule that a claim was not invalid and that the judge’s construction of the disputed claim was correct.

However, the Court of Appeal also ruled that Optis had not shown that the patent was essential to the standards in issue, and therefore Apple had not infringed the patent.