More reports on: Telecom

Samsung seeks review of Smartflash patents

07 April 2015

Smartphone maker Samsung has sought review of two Smartflash patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The move could potentially benefit rival Apple Inc, which is required to pay $532.9 million in damages after Smartflash won a court case in February.

The jury found Apple's iTunes service infringed patents owned by the Texas firm.

Like Apple, Samsung too faced Smartflash patent lawsuits associated with payment systems and data storage.

The lawsuit concerning Apple Inc, involved the company's iOS, iAd, the Mac, iTunes Store and iOS App Stores.

The reports said Samsung had approached the US Patent and Trademark Office seeking its review into whether or not the two patents were invalid.

A patent agency review board had earlier this week, issued initial findings against the patents, as they covered abstract concepts rather than definite inventions.

A panel of judges would finally decide the fate of the patent lawsuits. The judges would be hearing the arguments from both Smartflash and Samsung.

Smartflash was expected to lose out in the decision, reported citing insiders.

In a 2014 ruling, the US Supreme Court had said having a computer to perform a business function simply did not make up a new invention.

This week, Samsung, which is being sued over the same technology, convinced US regulators to review whether two of Smartflash's patents should have been issued in the first place.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg quoted Justin Oliver, who heads law firm Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto's office for contested patents, as asking whether Apple could put off paying any damages until there was resolution of the Samsung case. He added, if it was forced to pay damages, it was very difficult to get them back.

Smartflash's patents covered ways of controlling access to digital data through payment systems. According to the complaint, the inventor, Patrick Racz, originally sought to commercialise the invention in 2002 with pop singer Britney Spears.

Based on the agency's prior reviews, the odds of Smartflash winning the case were not good.  

The applications for patents in the small number of cases based on claims that the invention was an abstract idea had all been turned down, according to a study by the Fitzpatrick law firm.

However, according to Smartflash's lawyer, the company had been through this fight before.

The same issue had been considered by the district judge who presided over the trial and had sided with Smartflash.

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