Apple just lost $533m in a patent case

 
Billy Ehrenberg
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Apple was battling Smartflash, an American company founded in 2000 (Source: Getty)

Apple has lost a case worth $533m (£343m) after a Texas jury found its iTunes and App stores had infringed patents.

The tech-giant was battling Smartflash, an American company founded in 2000. Smartflash claimed that Apple wilfully infringed its patents, and did not respect its inventions. Apple disagreed, claiming the claims excessive and the patents invalid “many times over.” It also claimed that Smartflash was abusing the US patent system. Apple was found by the court to have contravened seven patents, but was cleared of charges regarding another four.

Apple has been here before. In 2012 it faced a case against VirnetX, which it initially lost and was ordered to pay $368m. On appeal the verdict was overturned, and the same appeals court will have jurisdiction in the latest case.

Apple said:

Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no US presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented.

We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system.

We rely on the patent system to protect real innovation and this case is one more example of why we feel so strongly Congress should enact meaningful patent reform.

There are plans to change patent legislation, but no bill has passed the senate to date.

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