Appellate Court Rules Smartflash Patents Invalid, Saving Apple $533 Million

A troll unhappy with the scales of justice

A troll unhappy with the scales of justiceApple won a significant victory in court this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That court ruled three patents owned by Smartflash LLC were invalid, according to Reuters. That ruling saves Apple US$532.9 million by negating a damage award.

Eastern District of Texas Verdict Tossed Out

A jury found in February, 2015, that Apple infringed on the patents, awarding Smartflash some $532.9 million in damages. The three-judge panel not only ruled those patents invalid, they ruled the judge in the Eastern District of Texas should have ruled them invalid in the first place.

In July of 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Rodney Gilstrap tossed out the jury award citing a lack of clear instructions, but ordered a new trial for damages. That ruling was appealed by Smartflash, while Apple appealed the infringement verdict itself, making for dueling appeals in the courts. The whole fight is rendered moot, however, by this appellate ruling.

At the heart of this ruling is that Apple and Samsung successfully challenged the validity of the patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patents were found to be vague and abstract, and not specific enough to warrant patent protection.

All of which is to say Apple saved more than half a billion dollars, and the judge was effectively rebuked. Samsung should also have a good shot at beating its own ongoing court fight with Smartflash.

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