Apple Can Try to Whittle $533 Million Damages

     TYLER, Texas (CN) – A federal judge set aside a $533 million judgment against Apple and granted it a new trial on damages alone in Smartflash’s copyright claims involving iTunes.
     U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap’s July 7 order acknowledges that his instructions on calculating royalties may have confused jurors who delivered the multimillion-dollar verdict on Feb. 24.
     Apple filed a renewed motion for judgment on damages, claiming the jury might have considered the entire market value of products, instead of distinguishing between the products’ patented and unpatented features.
     “The court is persuaded, in the clarity of post-trial hindsight, that such instructions may have created a skewed damages horizon for the jury,” Gilstrap wrote. “It is the court’s duty to view any and all proposed instructions critically and with an eye toward accurate compliance with the law coupled with effective and fair guidance for the jury.”
     Smartflash sued Apple in May 2013, claiming that iTunes software violated its patents for access to and storage of downloaded songs, games and other digital media.
     After eight hours of deliberation in February, a federal jury found that Apple willfully infringed on three Smartflash software patents to develop iTunes. It awarded Smartflash $532.9 million.
     Gilstrap set the new trial on damages for Sept. 14.
     “The court finds that Smartflash did not attempt to apply the substantive legal rule known as the entire market value rule, and the court agrees with Apple’s argument that a new trial on damages is necessary in light of the instruction the court provided the jury,” Gilstrap wrote.

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