Apple must pay $533m to a patent holder after a federal jury in Texas ruled that the company had infringed on patents owned by a firm called Smartflash.
The case dates back to 2013 when Smartflash filed a legal challenge against Apple claiming that iTunes software infringed on patents owned by Smartflash that relate to in-app purchases.
The company had sought damages of $852m, but Apple said that the patents were only worth around $5m. However, the jury in the case came down on the side of Smartflash and ordered Apple to pay over half a billion dollars.
Apple has said it would appeal the ruling and in a statement criticised the patent system for allowing companies like Smartflash to thrive.
“Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no US presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented,” Apple said.
“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.”
Brad Caldwell, lead counsel for Smartflash of legal firm Caldwell Cassady & Curry, said the right outcome had been reached.
“Smartflash is very pleased with the jury’s verdict in this case confirming that Apple devices designed to use the Apple iTunes Store and App Store infringe Smartflash's patents," he said.
"The jury worked hard throughout the trial.Ultimately, the jury saw through Apple’s arguments and reached the right result. The jury’s verdict provides well-deserved and long-overdue recognition for our client.”
The amount of money is largely irrelevant to Apple, which made profits of $18bn last quarter, but the firm will clearly be stung by losing the case.
Symantec was ordered to pay $17m to patent firm Intellectual Ventures earlier this month in another example of the tension between technology companies and firms that gather patents to use in legal cases.
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