US federal appeals court tosses $533M Smartflash victory against Apple

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A U.S. federal appeals court on Wednesday tossed a $533 million verdict in favor of patent holder Smartflash, which in an earlier court battle had argued that Apple violated its data storage concepts by way of iTunes.

A three-judge panel ruled that the Smartflash patents were too "abstract" and didn't sufficiently describe an actual invention, according to Reuters. The panel suggested that in the original court case, a Texas federal judge should simply have declared the patents invalid.

Smartflash was unlikely to achieve a positive outcome, as critical decisions since its initial victory in Feb. 2015 have gone against it.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap ordered a damages retrial in July of that year, citing faulty jury instructions. In June 2016, some Smartflash patents were invalidated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the same reasons used in today's ruling.

Indeed the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit could simply have referred to the USPTO decision, but went a step further in suggesting that Gilstrap should have taken action.

Smartflash has been described as a "patent troll," asserting patents without making use of them in any commercial products. It first filed suit against Apple in May 2013, claiming that in 2000 the company's founder — Patrick Racz — had shared his ideas with a technologist who went on to become a senior Apple director.


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