Patent troll’s $533 million win against Apple gets reversed

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Apple's legal problems just got a big lighter.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

Apple’s long-standing legal battle with patent troll Smartflash is finally nearing an end.

A previous jury verdict from 2015 that required Apple to pay $533 million to Smartflash was thrown out by a federal appeals court today. The lawsuit between the two companies has been ongoing since 2013, after Smartflash accused Apple’s iTunes software of infringing on its data storage patents.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled today that the judge in the Apple vs Smartflash case should have ruled that that the patents are invalid. According to a report from Reuters, the unanimous three-judge appeals panel said that Smartflash’s patents are too “abstract” and don’t describe an actual invention.

Last year the US Patent and Trademark Office invalidated the patents in question because they were too abstract. During the original hearing, Apple argued the patents shouldn’t be upheld because “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.”

Apple hasn’t been the only big tech company Smartflash has preyed on. The company filed a similar lawsuit against Samsung that is still making its way through the courts. Google and Microsoft have also been sued by Smartflash.

Both Apple and Smartflash declined to comment on today’s ruling.