Apple took a major step this week toward getting out of its $533 million payment to the patent troll Smartflash LLC after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that two of three patents owned by Smartflash are invalid.
The patent agency ruled that the two of the patents shouldn’t have even been issues in the first place because they are abstract concepts and not specific inventions. The USPTO made a similar ruling against one of Smartflash’s patents in March, which could help Apple get the case dismissed.
The legal battle between Smartflash and Apple has been ongoing for years, after the company accused Apple of infringing on its intellectual property with iTunes features related to data storage and payment systems. The company was seeking $852 million but was awarded a little over half that by a jury.
Smartflash’s lawyer Aaron Panner noted in a filing with the court that a previous three-judge panel ruled that not all inherently abstract, proving “Smartflash patent claims at issue are not directed to an abstract idea.”
Despite having three of Smartflash’s patents invalidated after the verdict, the case isn’t quite over. Smartflash can ask the three-judge panel at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to reconsider. After that doesn’t work they will then file an appeal with Federal Circuit of appeals.