Apple Ordered to Pay $309 Million for Infringing DRM Patent
A federal jury in Texas has ordered Apple to pay around $308.5 million to a local licensing firm for infringing a patent related to digital rights management, reports Bloomberg.
Following a five-day trial, jurors on Friday said Apple must pay running loyalty fees to Texas-based Personalized Media Communications (PMC). A running loyalty is generally based on the amount of sales of a product or service.
PMC originally sued Apple in 2015 for allegedly infringing seven of its patents. As part of the legal action, the company claimed Apple infringed its patent with technology including FairPlay, which is used to distribute encrypted content through the company's iTunes, App Store, and Apple Music apps.
Apple successfully challenged PMC's case at the U.S. patent office, but an appeals court reversed that decision in March 2020, opening an avenue for a trial to proceed.
Apple told Bloomberg it was disappointed with Friday's ruling and would appeal the decision.
"Cases like this, brought by companies that don't make or sell any products, stifle innovation and ultimately harm consumers," the company said in an emailed statement.
PMC is a non-practicing entity that holds a patent portfolio and generates revenue through patent litigation. When such companies employ hardball legal tactics to enforce patent rights far beyond the patent's actual value, they are often referred to as patent trolls.
The Sugarland-based company has infringement cases pending against several other tech companies including Netflix, Google, and Amazon.
Top Rated Comments
In theory there's nothing wrong with a firm specialising in research and licensing their patents, and there's nothing wrong with specialised firms investing in buying patents; but there needs to be a system for punishing those that intentionally do nothing but play with patents just to litigate. Not to help legitimate patent owners, but to intentionally just go for maximum damage/reward by a form of strategic and legal blackmail.
It's all about intent…
People would be surprised to know just how many patents tech companies sit on simply to prevent their competitors from... well... competing. Google, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, etc. They own patents that they haven't used in products and have no plans or interests in doing so... they're simply defensive patents.
And with the loosening of patent laws regarding what is allowed to be patented, it's to the point of absurdity.
I understand it is low hanging fruit to go after the patent trolls, but the problem goes far deeper and far wider than that... and on the whole, the patent system is overwhelmingly tilted toward companies like Apple. These kind of settlements are a little token sacrifice to the patent gods. :)
If companies were being so damaged by patent laws, they'd be lobbying congress heavily to get the laws changed. ;)