Smartflash are a patent troll. The company makes no products, has very few if any employees, but exists for the purpose of seeking other businesses to license their patented technology or, if not receiving a result, suing said business. SmartFlash have been linked with other telecommunications and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple. Back in February, Apple said this about the patent troll: “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.” Smartflash are in the process of suing Samsung but their case has received a serious setback, which could save Samsung a considerable sum. The US Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Smartflash’s lawsuit against Samsung should be put on hold until the patent in question has been studied by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO needs to ascertain if the included patents are valid and enforceable. The patents in question relate to digital rights management (DRM) and associated technologies, including data storage and mobile device payment systems.
Back in April, a USPTO review board found that some of Smartflash’s patents were “abstract ideas” and not concrete inventions per se, as such they are unenforceable. However, this was a preliminary report and the panel of US Patent and Trademark Office judges are expected to make a final ruling at some point next year, although at this time we do not have a date when this could happen. Smartflash is also engaged with Apple in a very similar lawsuit, where Smartflash is claiming that the Apple App Store (iTunes) violates a number of its patents. And the reason for Apple’s bitter statement above? Back in February, Smartflash won the case against Apple and were awarded $532.9 million in damages, although there will be a new damages hearing as US District Judge, Rodney Gilstrap, has said he may have influenced the jury with issuing damage instructions. If Smartflash’s patents are considered invalid, it would be expected both the case against Samsung and Apple to be dropped. This means that the existing $532.9 damages due would become null and void and.