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Judge orders retrial of patent suit against Apple

It seems like there is news on Apple’s legal affairs almost on a weekly basis. Today in the world of Apple’s legal battles, a federal judge voided a $532.9 million lawsuit award that a Texas jury handed to a company known as Smartflash, on the grounds that Smartflash is merely a shell company that makes its money by starting patent disputes.

Apple isn’t off the hook entirely, there will be a retrial and all of the evidence will be revisited. It is possible that Apple will still have to pay Smartflash a sum of money over their patent dispute. However, it will likely end up being less than the $532 million total Apple was faced with earlier.

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Smartflash filed its lawsuit against Apple back in 2013, accusing the company of infringing on three patents with iTunes and other bits of software. These patents were all to do with “data storage and managing access”, so it likely had something to do with the way iTunes stores and organizes your music library.

Smartflash initially sought well over $800 million but was not awarded the full amount. Apple of course filed an appeal swiftly and now there will be a retrial, meaning the legal battle isn’t over just yet. As you would imagine, Apple isn’t particularly happy about this lawsuit and has issued statements criticizing Smartflash: “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”.

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KitGuru Says: This all demonstrates the problem with the way patents are currently handled. There are quite a few ‘shell’ companies out there that focus purely on acquiring patents and hoping to strike it big later on with lawsuits, rather than actually creating any form of product. It will be interesting to see how the retrial goes on this one.

Via: The Verge

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