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Samsung patent review may undermine $533M Smartflash verdict against Apple

Samsung has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to review two Smartflash patents, a move that could potentially absolve Apple of paying $532.9 million in damages following a Smartflash court victory in February.




Like Apple, Samsung is facing a Smartflash lawsuit over patents connected to data storage and payment systems, which in Apple's case brought iAd, iOS, the iTunes Store, and the Mac and iOS App Stores under scrutiny. Samsung is asking the USPTO to determine whether or not two of the patents are invalid, Bloomberg said on Friday.

Earlier this week a patent agency review board issued preliminary findings against the patents, contending that they cover abstract concepts instead of definite inventions. Their fate will ultimately be decided by a panel of judges hearing arguments from both Samsung and Smartflash.

The latter is likely to lose out in the decision. Last year the US Supreme Court ruled that simply having a computer perform a business function doesn't constitute a new invention, which in tandem with this week's preliminary review may set a clear precedent.

Should the case not be dimissed or settled beforehand, Samsung is facing an August trial date. In all the USPTO is reviewing five out of six patents being wielded in the Smartflash lawsuits —a Samsung petition to invalidate the third patent in Apple's case is awaiting action.

Apple is in the process of appealing the February verdict. It may need to stretch out proceedings, however, if it wants to wait for the USPTO ruling to be handed down.