iTunes Patent Infringement Results In $533 Million Judgment Against Apple

It's a good thing Apple has plenty of cash on hand because the Cupertino outfit has just been ordered to pay $532.9 million after a federal jury in Tyler, Texas found that its iTunes software infringed on three technology patents belonging to Smartflash LLC. That's hundreds of millions of dollars less than the $852 million Smartflash was seeking, though far more than the $4.5 million Apple argued it should owe at most.

Apple's reaction to the verdict is one of disgust, as it pretty much insinuated that Smartflash is a patent troll, at least in this instance.


"Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented," said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman. "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."

Apple hasn't had good luck with lawsuits in Tyler, a place that seems to favor patent holders and also happens to be where Smartfish is from. In 2012, a another federal jury in Tyler ordered Apple to pay $368 million in damages to VirnetX Inc. for patent infringement. Apple appealed the decision and had the damages award thrown out.

In this instance, the disagreement was over digital rights management, data storage, and payment systems. Smartfish claimed that Apple's infringement was willful, as one of its executives had received a briefing on the technology over a decade ago.