Smartflash's hopes of scoring a big financial win in its patent infringement fight with Apple just got a little bleaker. U.S. District Court Judge Rodney Gilstrap tossed out the US$532.9 million Smartflash had been awarded and ordered a new damages trial because the jury in the case may have been given improper instructions.
Smartflash's patent damages win against Apple tossed out
Apple claimed the jury's damages amount was too high because they were given wrong instructions and miscalculated royalties, according to Reuters. Judge Gilstrap agreed, and on Tuesday set aside the award and ordered a new damages trial date for September 14.
Smartflash took Apple to court in Tyler, Texas—a court known for favoring patent trolls—for allegedly infringing on patents it holds covering DRM and payment systems. The patent holding company said Apple was using its technology in iTunes and as such should be paying licensing fees. Apple has maintained that it isn't infringing, and that the patents aren't valid.
A jury ruled in favor of Smartflash earlier this year, but awarded the company $532.9 million instead of the $852 million it wanted. Apple vowed to fight the ruling stating,
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. 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.
This new ruling means Smartflash will have to shell out more money for legal expenses in hopes of getting damages out of Apple. Considering Judge Gilstrap said the jury overshot a reasonable damages value, however, it's likely Smartflash will get even less than the $532.9 million that was just tossed out.
Once a new damages value is set, Smartflash will have to wait to see if it can collect because Apple isn't done fighting the ruling. Since Apple plans to continue fighting this case, any damages Smartflash could potentially get will be tied up in the court system for some time.