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Apple and Google band together and ask Supreme Court to help keep patent trolls at bay


Bloomberg reports that Apple, Google and 13 other companies are teaming up in an effort to convince the Supreme Court to make it easier to recoup attorneys fees stemming from frivolous patent suits.

With more than US$140 billion in the bank, Apple is naturally an attractive target for patent trolls looking to make a quick buck. It therefore shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Apple is the most sued tech company on the planet. Indeed, Apple since 2009 has been hit with nearly 190 lawsuits from non-practicing entities alone.

This February, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that center on a defendant's ability to recoup legal costs in patent suits. As it stands now, a defendant can successfully recoup its legal costs only when a case is found to have been "baseless' and "filed in bad faith." Apple and co. believe that the bar should be a tad lower.

Apple told the justices that the company faces 228 unresolved patent claims and employs two attorneys just to respond to letters that demand royalties. The iPad maker, based in Cupertino, California, says it has been sued 92 times by patent-assertion entities in the last three years, settling 51 cases, with most of the rest pending.

"Apple has rarely lost on the merits," the company said in court papers. "But victory figures as small consolation because in every one of these cases, Apple has been forced to bear its legal fees."

And speaking of patent suits, FOSS Patents reported earlier today that Apple is being sued by a German patent firm called IPCom over a standard-essential patent relating to managing "access to overloaded wireless communication channels by handsets." The suit is seeking damages of $2.12 billion.

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