Apple Avoids Paying $533M In Fight Over Patents, Wins A New Trial To Decide Damages

A few months after a jury ordered Apple to pay almost $533 million after finding that the iPhone giant had infringed on three patents held by a rival company, a judge has thrown out that award and ordered a new trial to determine damages in the case.

At the center of the case are three patents owned by Smartflash that deal with data storage and payment management. The company had alleged that a patent co-inventor shared his ideas back in 2000 with a man who is now a senior director at Apple. Though Smartflash doesn’t make its own products, the company claimed that Apple infringed on the patents by using the technology to manage apps sold through the iTunes store.

The jury decided in February that Apple had willfully infringed on SmartFlash’s patents, and awarded the claimant $532.9 million, though it had sought $852 million in damages initially.

Apple had argued that the award was too much, and that jurors might’ve improperly considered the entire market value of the products when deciding royalties, instead of distinguishing between patented and unpatented features, reports Reuters.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap in Texas said yesterday that there was a possibility that jurors were confused by his previous instructions on how to properly calculate royalties, noting that while his instructions had been legally correct, they weren’t applicable to the facts of the case. This “may have created a skewed damages horizon for the jury,” he said.

He’s set a new trial solely to decide the issue of damages for Sept. 14 in Tyler, TX, Smartflash’s home base.

Apple persuades U.S. judge to void $533 mln iTunes award [Reuters]

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