A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Tuesday dropped the $532.9 million in damages that patent licensing firm Smartflash LLC was awarded in February in an iTunes-related patent lawsuit, reports Reuters.
Apple was initially ordered to pay $532.9 million in damages to Smartflash LLC after a federal jury in the Tyler, Texas courtroom found certain iTunes apps to be infringing upon the company’s patents related to digital rights management, data storage and managing access through payment systems.
Reuters says federal judge Rodney Gilstrap has set a new damages trial on September 14. The judge reportedly ruled that “his jury instructions might have ‘skewed’ jurors’ understanding of the damages that Apple should pay.”
Apple had argued that Smartflash was merely exploiting the patent system:
“Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented,” said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman. “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.”
Smartflash LLC originally sought $852 million in damages, claiming that it was entitled to a share of sales of all Apple products that could be used to access the iTunes service. This included iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Macs.
Apple will most likely still be required to pay a fine of a differing amount come the end of September’s damages trial. However, the company has already said that it will appeal the decision.