itunes_12_2_iconThe U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on May 26 invalidated two of three patents owned by Smartflash LLC, a patent licensing firm that was awarded a $532.9 million verdict against Apple in February 2015, according to Bloomberg.

A three-judge panel at the patent agency found that the two patents never should have been issued in the first place because the idea of storing and paying for data is an abstract concept, not a specific invention.

A third patent owned by Smartflash LLC was also invalidated in late March, increasing the odds that Apple will not have to pay the large sum. Smartflash LLC, which fits the description of a patent troll, can still ask the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to reconsider and file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Last year, a federal jury for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas found certain iTunes apps to be infringing upon Smartflash LLC's patents, related to digital rights management, data storage, and managing access through payment systems. Apple appealed the decision, arguing that the patents were invalid.

Smartflash LLC also targeted Samsung and Google with similar patent infringement claims.

Top Rated Comments

HobeSoundDarryl Avatar
101 months ago
I think I'd be in favor of throwing out patents entirely. I don't see any reason for them to exist. They supposedly exist to protect inventors... but from what?

If patents didn't exist:
I put a lot of effort into R&D. Bring my product to market. I'm now the only person selling my product for a period of time.
You want to duplicate my product. You buy it. You invest in reverse engineering. You can now also sell the product.
Com'on man. Read Tesla's story and consider the above. He did the big thinking and then the big inventing that is still crucially important to all of our lives today. What he always lacked? The money to thoroughly bring his inventions to market. Bigger players with deeper pockets exploited his inventions and got very, very rich... continuing to reap the profits from his inventions to this day. He died penniless.

Fundamentally, a patent allows the poorest of the poor to invent something and get compensated for it... either by finding a way to bring it to market or by those who have such resources licensing the invention from him or her. Either way, the inventor gets paid for their innovation.

As is now, gigantic corporations will just skip the licensing and implement inventors work and then fight the poor inventor in court if the inventor can bring themselves to try to take on Goliath. Goliath can pay a 100 of the best attorneys while poor inventor can't necessarily even pay for 1 poor one. And still, because there is a granted patent, the inventor may get paid anyway for their invention.

Are there flaws in the patent system? Yes, plenty... especially when it comes to patenting software (which, IMO, should fall under copyright law, not patent law) and fundamental tech (like rounded rectangles).

Do as you suggest- basically kill the system of patents altogether- and only the big corporations would have the incentives to invent and share their inventions with the world in products. A Tesla could not do his kind of thing in such a world. And, if so, you & I might be reading each others posts by candlelight, probably written in ink on parchment paper without the work of the Teslas.

If the patent system is good when it works for Apple is should be just as good when it works against Apple. Apple- and our Apple halo opinions- cannot have it both ways.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheAppleFairy Avatar
101 months ago


If patents didn't exist:
I put a lot of effort into R&D. Bring my product to market. I'm now the only person selling my product for a period of time.
You want to duplicate my product. You buy it. You invest in reverse engineering. You can now also sell the product.
That's an awful idea, large companies who can outsource and come up with money easily could squash little guys before they even get a chance to start making a profit.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArtOfWarfare Avatar
101 months ago
I think I'd be in favor of throwing out patents entirely.

I don't see any reason for them to exist.

They supposedly exist to protect inventors... but from what?

If patents didn't exist:
I put a lot of effort into R&D. Bring my product to market. I'm now the only person selling my product for a period of time.
You want to duplicate my product. You buy it. You invest in reverse engineering. You can now also sell the product.

How is the original person who invested in R&D harmed? They still made their initial profits. Their future profits might decline... but so what? Can't rest on your laurels. Consumers benefit because they have more choice.

If patents worked perfectly:
I put a lot of effort into R&D. Bring my product to market. Charge insane prices because I have a monopoly.

The way patents actually work right now:
Starts the same way as if they didn't exist. But wait, a patent troll exists! The person who invested in the R&D gets a BS lawsuit!

Patents make no freaking sense. If they worked perfectly, it would be terrible for consumers. If they didn't exist at all, it would be ideal for consumers. As is, they're terrible for everything but patent trolls and lawyers... consumers and inventors both suffer in the current system.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JGRE Avatar
101 months ago
Now hold up just one minute. :rolleyes: We can't kill the patent trolls. Otherwise, we'd have to kill Apple, Blackberry, Microsoft, Ericsson, and Sony. Because that little cabal formed a patent troll. Thankfully, they eventually came to their senses, but there's no denying they were a troll. And they went trolling.
A patent troll is a company that holds patents for no other reason than squeezing money out of it with no intention at all to monetize the patents in any products or services. The companies you name don't fit the definition.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DynaFXD Avatar
101 months ago
That's an awful idea, large companies who can outsource and come up with money easily could squash little guys before they even get a chance to start making a profit.
A) Anybody can outsource, even individuals.
B) Big companies can still bleed the small guy dry by dragging them into court to argue prior art or any other reasonably flimsy excuse;
C) Big companies already use patents to keep others out of their sand box.

While I do not agree that there should be no patents. I do not like the idea of companies being able to buy them all up and wield them like a sword to take down others. There should be some system of 'use it or lose it.' IMHO.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
redscull Avatar
101 months ago
So basically, rules that favor Apple at all others expense.
No. I am by no means one of those types. I cannot even fathom how anything I said would lead you to believe that.
If the buyer is a troll, then so be it. If the troll will ultimately seek compensation from an Apple, why didn't an Apple get in there and outbid the troll for the inventors patent in the first place?
Now I am not sure you are actually reading what people reply. Apple/whoever didn't get in there in the first place for two reasons:

One, the inventor and/or his invention was unknown. Trolls buy up tech en mass at bargain prices from desperate inventors long before any of it is relevant. Most of those patents never pay off, but it doesn't matter so long as a few win the troll some major lawsuits. It's not like there was a big auction where Apple/whoever sees the patent and passes on it or intentionally decides not to license it.

Two, the patents are stupid. The software engineer at Apple or any other big or little company easily "invents" the exact same stuff with no knowledge of the existing patent, and it seems so obvious to them that they don't bother investigating. The troll also doesn't tell them they were accidentally using their patent and make a licensing offer; instead they wait it out until they can maximize their pay day.

That's how the system currently, actually works. I am not saying the concept of patents is bad, but how it presently works is pathetically broken.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

General Apps Messages

Apple Announces 'Groundbreaking' New Security Protocol for iMessage

Wednesday February 21, 2024 6:00 am PST by
Apple today announced a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage called PQ3. Apple says this "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks." Apple believes the PQ3 protocol's protections "surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps," according to its blog post:Today we are announcing...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Monday February 19, 2024 6:52 am PST by
Apple last month confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU and Apple Podcasts transcripts. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay later this year. More details about the new...
samsung galaxy ring

'Apple Ring' Allegedly in Development to Rival Samsung Galaxy Ring

Tuesday February 20, 2024 2:27 am PST by
Apple is speeding up development of a smart ring that can be worn on the finger to track users' health biometrics, claims a new report coming out of Korea. Teaser image of Samsung Galaxy Ring shown at Galaxy Unpacked in January Apple has toyed with the idea of a ring wearable for several years, as indicated by several patents, but with Samsung preparing to bring its own product to market, the ...
volvo s60 drivers apple maps

iOS 17.4 Beta Adds CarPlay Option to Show Upcoming Maneuvers in Instrument Cluster

Tuesday February 20, 2024 10:47 am PST by
The fourth beta of iOS 17.4 that Apple released today adds a new CarPlay feature, according to the notes that Apple provided to developers. In supported CarPlay vehicles, there's now an Apple Maps option to show information about upcoming maneuvers in the instrument cluster. CarPlay users will be able to swap the display type between the main and instrument cluster by tapping on the map...
m3 macbook pro 14 16

Apple Now Selling Refurbished M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBook Pro Models

Monday February 19, 2024 5:04 pm PST by
Apple today began offering refurbished versions of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M3 Pro and M3 Max chip options, offering the machines at a discount for the first time since their October 2023 release. The release of M3 Pro and M3 Max models on Apple's refurbished store comes almost two weeks after the entry-level 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro first appeared on the store....
iPad Pro OLED Feature 2

Apple's Upcoming OLED iPad Pro Models Rumored to Be Much Thinner

Tuesday February 20, 2024 1:39 pm PST by
Apple is planning to update the iPad Air and iPad Pro lineups as soon as March, and the new iPad Pro models will be significantly thinner according to dimensions shared by 9to5Mac. Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, the site claims that the larger version will be more than 1mm thinner. The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro measures in at 6.4mm thick, but the new model is said to be 5mm ...
apple wallet drivers license feature

Apple Said iPhone Driver's Licenses Will Expand to These 8 U.S. States

Monday February 12, 2024 7:51 am PST by
In 2021, Apple introduced a feature that lets residents of participating U.S. states add their driver's license or ID to the Wallet app on the iPhone and Apple Watch, providing a convenient and contactless way to display proof of identity or age. Unfortunately, states have been slow to adopt the feature since it was first announced in September 2021, with IDs in the Wallet app only available ...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro Notch

Apple's OLED Roadmap: New iPad Mini, Foldable iPad Pro, and More

Wednesday February 21, 2024 5:29 am PST by
Apple is planning to launch at least nine new devices with OLED displays across the iPad and MacBook product lines, according to an updated forecast from research firm Omdia that sets out the company's plans in detail. As widely rumored, Apple's push to transition to OLED will apparently be jump-started by the release of new 11- and 13-inch iPad Pro models this year. The displays will...