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Smartflash Hits Apple With Patent Infringement Suit Again

Smartflash LLC filed suit, once again alleging infringement of three patents that recently won them a $533M victory against Apple Inc., this time on newer products, and adding four additional patents related to the Apple Store Kit.

The company claims that Apple is indirectly infringing by inducing infringement by product assemblers, resellers, app developers and publishers, digital content publishers and end-user customers.

Smartflash says Apple induces the alleged infringement with the iPhone 6, iPhone 6+, iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2 — which can access the iTunes Store or any version of the App Store app — its internal servers involved in operating the iTunes Store, its App Store, and other servers involved in the payment function of the iTunes Store, App Store or content via iCloud, as well as servers involved in Apple’s iAd Network.

“This lawsuit is intended to make sure that those products are adequately accounted for,” Cassady, an attorney for Smartflash, said.

“Apple has known these components to be especially made or especially adapted for use in an infringement of the patents-in-suit and that these components are not a staple article or commodity of commerce suitable for substantial non-infringing use,” the complaint says. “Alternatively, Apple believed there was a high probability that others would infringe the patents-in-suit but remained willfully blind to the infringing nature of others’ actions.”

When Smartflash sued Apple, Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp. in May 2013, accusing them of infringing six anti-piracy patents, the tech companies argued that the patents were invalid as abstract under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice standard on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions. They had argued the patents, which describe a system to pay for and download digital content, simply described paying for something to gain access to it, a “building block” of the modern economy.

However, U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap adopted the recommendation of U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell, who found that the patents cleared the Alice hurdlw because although controlling access to data based on payment was abstract, the claims had meaningful limitations that transformed the idea into something patentable.

The patents addressed a problem created by the Internet: how to protect copyrighted material from being copied without permission, while still letting allowed users to access it quickly and permanently.

For more information, see Law360.



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