GPNE lost its patent infringement lawsuit against Apple on Wednesday,after which the iPhone and iPad maker promptly called the company a patent troll — a term it was barred from using during the trial. GPNE accused Apple of designing its mobile devices around its years-old pager patent and asked the court to bar the use of "patent troll" in the proceedings.
Apple gets to call GPNE a patent troll after winning infringement lawsuit
Apple's legal team was also blocked from using terms like "bandit," "bounty hunter," or "privateer," "playing the lawsuit lottery," and "shakedown." The reasoning, GPNE argued, was that Apple could confuse or unfairly sway the jury.
"Patent troll" is a term used to describe a company that makes money by licensing and litigating patents instead of making any products. Patent trolls try to pressure companies into paying licensing fees — in some cases for frivolous or unrelated patents — and when that fails they typically file a lawsuit to either push for an out of court settlement or to win its claim in front of a jury.
That's exactly what GPNE was hoping for with its 1996 patent describing a system where pagers for two-way communication. Pagers were little devices people used before the proliferation of cell phones to receive call back phone numbers. The person sending the page would then have to wait for the recipient to find a phone and call back. The system was akin to stone knives and bear skins.
GPNE said the iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini all infringed on its patent because they allowed for two-way communication. The jury in the trial disagreed and shot down the company's hopes of winning US$93.7 million in damages.
Following the verdict, Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet told Bloomberg GPNE is a patent troll and that the company was trying to "extort money from Apple for 20-year-old pager patents that have expired, wasting time for everyone involved."
With the verdict in, Apple wasn't bound by the gag order blocking it from calling GPNE a patent troll, and the company didn't waste any time putting the term to use. GPNE can appeal the ruling, but hasn't done so yet.