Fresh from $532.9M win, Smartflash sues Apple again

The patent company's focus in the second lawsuit is on Apple's newer products like the iPhone 6

Shortly after a jury in Texas awarded it US$532.9 million in damages in a patent dispute with Apple, patent company Smartflash has sued the iPhone maker again, this time to focus on newer Apple products.

"Apple has released new products that came out too late for inclusion in Smartflash's previous action against Apple," Smartflash's attorney Bradley W. Caldwell said in an email Thursday.

The company sued Apple and others in May 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler division, alleging that iTunes software infringed on six of its patents related to serving and managing access to data.

The jury found earlier this week that Apple infringed three Smartflash patents in order to produce and sell its popular iTunes software. It also found the three Smartflash patents to be valid. Smartflash had asked for $852 million in damages.

The new lawsuit in the same court alleges that Apple has infringed Smartflash's seven patents in its iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad mini 3, and iPad Air 2 devices containing any version of iTunes that can access the iTunes Store or any version of the App Store app. The additional seventh patent in this suit, US Patent No. 8,794,516 was awarded to the company in August last year.

The complaint also alleged that Apple infringes Smartflash's patents, all titled "Data Storage and Access Systems," in its internal servers, including those involved in operating the iTunes Store including App Store, in-application payment functionality, content via iCloud and the iAd advertising platform.

Apple could not be immediately reached for comment on the new suit. "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," Apple said in a statement after the jury decision.

The new lawsuit asks the court to award damages for the alleged infringement as well as an injunction. It asks for a compulsory ongoing licensing fee if a permanent injunction to prevent future infringement is not granted. Smartflash has asked for a trial by jury.

The Tyler-based technology development and licensing company claimed in both suits that company founder Patrick Racz, one of the co-inventors of the patents-in-suit, met with various people at Gemplus, now Gemalto, to discuss the technology claimed in the patents cited in the suit. Augustin Farrugia, who later joined Apple and is now its senior director, was one of the people at Gemplus who learned of the technology of the patents, according to the complaint.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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