Apple Gets a Reprieve in iTunes Infringement Case

IP News and Information

A lot of companies have tried, and many have failed, to take a bite out of Apple Inc. However, recently, a small Tyler, Texas-based company was awarded more than $530 million in an infringement suit against the massive electronics and computer giant. The company in question, Smartflash, accused Apple of infringing on three of its patents designed to store and access data such as videos, songs and games. The company claimed that Apple’s iTunes software ripped off its IP. In the initial ruling, the jury sided with Smartflash and awarded the company $532.9 million in damages, to be paid by Apple.

Jurors Side With Smartflash

Smartflash had originally asked for $852 million in damages after the company co-owner claimed that Apple infringed his patents to help sell more of its iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads. That same Smartflash co-owner claimed that he had shared some of his ideas with a company in Europe in 2000. One of the members of the European company in that meeting later became a senior official with Apple. Apple originally complained that Smartflash did not even have any products and was just using the patents to file lawsuits against infringers. Despite that fact, the jury still sided with Smartflash.

Judge Says Jurors Might Have Erred

However, Apple appealed that decision and it just received a favorable ruling from the same federal judge in the original trial. That judge has thrown out the jury’s multi-million dollar award against the company. The judge stated that the jury might have misunderstood him when he explained the procedures for calculating damages. Apple claimed that the amount was too high because the jury did not properly figure the value of the damages. Apple claimed that the jurors based their award on the complete market value of the products instead of differentiating between the value of patented and unpatented features.

Apple Will Get Another Chance

The judge apparently agreed with Apple and has now ordered a new trial. Although he stated that his instructions did follow proper legal procedures, they probably weren’t applicable in this situation. The new trial is scheduled to take place in September in Tyler, Texas. Neither company nor their legal representatives had any comment on the latest decision by the judge.

Protecting Patent Rights

This is an interesting case because so far Smartflash does not have any actual products and the company doesn’t really appear to be operating a legitimate company. However, it does own these patents and its owners did create the technology, therefore, according to the law it does have the right to pursue damages from other companies or individuals that infringe their technology. Protecting your patent rights through litigation is one more way to monetize your intellectual property assets. Although IPTrader focuses mainly on IP brokering, we are also prepared to help you protect your IP rights against would-be infringers, as well. If you need help with monetizing your IP, in any way, then please contact us today at IPTrader.