The ruling of a federal appeals court involving Apple Inc and Smartflash LLC highlights issues that could be of concern to inventors or companies in New Jersey that want to protect their intellectual property. The appeals court rejected a previous jury verdict that had awarded a settlement of $533 million to Smartflash. In a lawsuit filed in May 2013, Smartflash's founder alleged that Apple's iTunes software had used elements originally patented by his company.
The technology developed by Smartflash in 2000 had been related to storing songs, videos or games and making that content accessible by an electronic payment system. According to the founder of the company, he talked about these ideas with someone who went on to become a senior director at Apple.
Upon review of the case, the three-judge panel determined that the patent documentation about Smartflash's technology lacked enough specificity to qualify as an actual invention. The panel determined that the abstract description of the technology could not serve as a basis for legal protection.
Individuals and organizations that wish to register trademarks or copyrights or file patents might find it helpful to consult an attorney. Issues such as qualification for protection from infringement could be researched by a knowledgeable lawyer, who may assist with preparing applications for government agencies. Once protections are formally established, an attorney could help someone defend his or her intellectual property if piracy or another form of infringement arises. A lawyer may also help his or her client through the process involved in intellectual property litigation. This type of lawsuit may be able to force the infringing party to stop using the disputed material or even result in a settlement if the infringement caused economic damage to the owner of the protected property.Source: Reuters, "U.S. appeals court tosses patent verdict against Apple", Jan Wolfe, March 1, 2017