Consumer tech giant Apple has been hit with a US$532.9m bill after a US federal jury found the company’s iTunes software used Texas-based Smartflash LLC’s patented inventions without permission.
Smartflash LLC had taken Apple to court over what it believed were obvious copies of its data storage and access to payments technologies which it had patented in products including Game Circus LLC’s Coin Dozer and 4 Pics 1 Movie, according to Bloomberg.
Having asked for US$852m, Smartflash believed it was entitled to a percentage of the sale of any Apple device that would have had access to the iTunes software, which is effectively every iPhone, iPod, iPad or Mac computer.
Smartflash believes Apple would have gotten access to its software used in iTunes as a result of Apple executives being given a briefing on how it worked more than 10 years ago.
Apple’s lawyers had been claiming in court that if the case was indeed found to be an infringement of copyright, their estimate of a financial sum was put somewhere closer to US$4.5m.
Apple claims patent trolling
Now that Apple has been found to have indeed infringed on copyright, the company and its legal representatives have been quick to dismiss Smartflash and its founder Patrick Racz.
Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet said Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no US presence, and is exploiting Apple's 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,” she said.
Likewise, a lawyer representing Apple, James Batchelder of Ropes & Gray in California said, “(The claims) are not just invalid, they are invalid many times over.”
Apple lawsuit image via Shutterstock