A federal jury in Texas has ruled that tech giant Apple “willfully” breached three patents when it created iTunes, its long-running e-commerce, file storage and playback platform for music, video and games.
Apple had previously refused to recognise the claim brought by SmartFlash LLC, a patent licensing firm, claiming that the technology in question had already been covered by earlier patents and that these should be withdrawn. It also suggested that the patents referred to basic technologies that had since been outstripped by its own designers and engineers.
“We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system,” said the company in a statement.
The patents relate to the way that files are downloaded and accessed through the system.
Smartflash initially asked for $852m in damages, but the judge awarded $532.9m. Apple says that it will appeal the decision.
Smartflash does not make products itself, but says that in 2000 the patent co-creator Patrick Racz met with Apple’s now senior director Augustin Farrugia, who was then working at Gemalto SA.
“Smartflash is very happy with the jury’s verdict, which recognizes Apple’s longstanding willful infringement,” Brad Caldwell, a lawyer for Smartflash, told Reuters.
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