Apple wins appeal to keep US$308 million US patent ruling at bay

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A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld a decision to dismiss a $308.5 million jury verdict against Apple for alleged infringement of a patent related to digital rights management.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. upheld the ruling of a federal judge in East Texas that the Personalized Media Communications LLC patent was invalid because the company had engaged in U.S. Patent and Trademark misconduct Office.

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PMC declined to comment on the decision. Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

PMC, a patent licensing company, first sued Apple for infringement of several patents in 2015. An East Texas jury said in August 2021 that the FairPlay software used in Apple’s iTunes and App Store to sell movies, music and apps decryption, infringed one of the patents and awarded the company US$308.5 million in damages.

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District Judge Rodney Gilstrap overturned the verdict four months later. He said PMC’s patent was unenforceable because the company had used a “deliberate delay strategy” in filing for the patent, which represents a “knowing and blatant abuse of the legal patent system.”

Gilstrap said PMC had used an inappropriate “submarine” strategy that some pre-1995 applicants used to delay patents until a market for their invention emerged.

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The Federal Circuit upheld Gilstrap in a 2-1 ruling, ruling that PMC’s “unfair settlement to expand its patent rights” had harmed Apple.

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