Apple threatens to leave the UK over 'commercially unacceptable' patent fee

Apple Store Regent Street
Apple Store Regent Street (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • An Apple lawyer says the company could pull out of the UK if it is forced to pay a "commercially unacceptable" fee to a patent troll.
  • Apple could be told to hand over a $7billion (£5billion) as part of the legal row.

Apple could leave the UK market if it is forced to hand over $7billion (£5billion) to a patent troll, a company lawyer has claimed. The lawyer called the fee "commercially unacceptable" and comes amid the news that Apple could be fined over its use of Optis Cellular Technology patents.

Optis says that Apple used its patents relating to 3G and 4G technologies used in iPhones, something a High Court judge ruled was indeed the case in the case of two of the company's patents. But according to a This Is Money report, the prospect of having to hand over as much as $7 billion has Apple ready to pull out of the UK altogether. Or, at least, that's what one of its lawyers seems to think.

American tech giant Apple has threatened to quit the UK over a $7billion (£5billion) legal row.Apple's lawyers warned it could quit the UK market if a court forces the company to pay a 'commercially unacceptable' fee for the technology used in its iPhones.The extraordinary threat raises the prospect of an end to new iPhone sales in the UK and the restriction of services and upgrades to existing customers.Apple issued the warning as part of a court battle with UK patent holder Optis Cellular Technology.Optis is suing Apple for patent infringement after the iPhone maker refused to pay licence fees worth a possible $7billion for using 'standardised' smartphone technology in its products.A High Court judge ruled last month that Apple had infringed two Optis patents, which help iPhones connect to the 3G and 4G networks.

The prospect of Apple actually quitting the UK is something that seems highly unlikely given it's one of Apple's biggest markets and the company has multiple flagship stores in London alone. Apple is already set to sell a ton of iPhone 13 handsets this fall for example, and it won't be walking away from that money any time soon.

If the name Optis rings a bell, it's because it already had a similar ruling overturned in the United States.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.