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Samsung May Rescue Apple From $533 Million Smartflash Patent Infringement RulingSamsung May Rescue Apple From $533 Million Smartflash Patent Infringement Ruling

Apple’s bitter rival Samsung may rescue the iPhone maker from a $533 million court ruling that it infringed Smartflash’s patents with its iTunes software.

DH Kass

April 7, 2015

2 Min Read
Samsung May Rescue Apple From $533 Million Smartflash Patent Infringement Ruling

In February, a federal jury in Tyler, Texas told Apple (AAPL) to pay little-known Smartflash $532.9 million in damages for violating three of its patents with the iTunes software.

But that apparently wasn’t enough for the newly-emboldened Smartflash, which pocketed that win and promptly sued Apple again, this time alleging the iPhone maker had infringed Smartflash’s seven patents in its iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad mini 3, and iPad Air 2 devices using any version of iTunes to access the iTunes Store or the App Store.

However, in an ironic twist, Apple’s bitter rival Samsung may rescue the iPhone maker from Smartflash’s patent infringement clutches. That’s because Samsung, which Smartflash also is suing over the same issue in a battle scheduled for court in Tyler this coming August, last week convinced a review panel at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to examine the validity of two of Smartflash’s patents.

Along with Apple’s earlier appeal for Smartflash patent review, regulators have agreed to investigate five of the six patents in question.

In the Samsung case, Bloomberg reported that last week patent agency reviewers issued preliminary findings that because Smartflash’s patents don’t cover actual inventions but instead abstract ideas they don’t meet the requirements for legal protection. Now it’s up to a judiciary panel to make a final decision, which could take up to a year, the report said.

Apparently, Smartflash’s chances of winning the Samsung case aren’t strong, based on a study by the law firm Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, according to Bloomberg. The law firm’s study indicated that of the few legal cases in which the invention proved to be an abstract idea all were determined not eligible for patent protection, Bloomberg reported.

For Apple, it’s unclear whether the vendor will be able to hold off paying the damage claim to Smartflash until the Samsung ruling arrives. In the meantime, Smartflash’s attorney remains confident.

“This is just the institution” of the review, Jason Cassady of Caldwell, Cassady & Curry, told Bloomberg. “It’s a little different than most cases and we feel confident.”

Smartflash, which inventor Patrick Racz began in the early 2000s, doesn’t make any products, has no employees and its revenue comes solely from issuing licenses for technology on seven patents it owns. It and companies like it are referred to disparagingly in the IT industry as patent trolls.

In its complaint against Apple, Smartflash alleged the vendor violated six of its patents, asking the court for $852 million in damages. Apple, which argued the Smartflash patents were invalid, countered that the claim was worth about $4.5 million, as Bloomberg reported.

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About the Author(s)

DH Kass

Senior Contributing Blogger, The VAR Guy

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