A federal judge has overturned the US$532.9m damages awarded against Apple for infringing on patents owned by SmartFlash LLC, a Texas-based firm whose sole business is patent licensing.
The consumer tech giant was hit with the bill in February after a Texas jury found that iTunes software used patented material relating to methods of storing data and managing payment systems. Smartflash believed it was entitled to a percentage of the sale of any Apple device that used the software, which is effectively every iPhone, iPod, iPad or Mac computer.
As reported by Reuters, US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap has now voided his original decision, saying that jurors who awarded the damages might have been confused by his instructions on how to properly calculate royalties. Apple will still likely be hit with a hefty fine though, with a new trial date of 14 September now set to decide revised damages.
Founded by Patrick Racz, SmartFlash owns seven patents and derives all of its income from settlements or court awards. Following the original ruling, Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet hit out at the company, saying it makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no US presence, and is exploiting Apple’s patent system to seek royalties.
“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.