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Apple hit with $533 million iTunes patent bill

Apple has been forced to fork out $533 million in damages after being found guilty of iTunes-based patent infringement.

Having been deemed to have unlawfully infringed on a trio of intellectual properties held by Smartflash, a British Virgin Islands-based patent licensing company, Apple was found guilty by a federal judge in the US.

The patents in question relate to technologies used in the back end of the company’s digital iTunes store. They cover methods of managing and storing audio and video files, apps and games as well as means of authenticating purchases.

Although Smartflash had originally sought damages of $852 million (£550m), the final sum was reduced to $533 (£344m) million by the judge.

Despite the reduced fine, Apple is still unhappy and has announced it intends to appeal, suggesting the technologies are worth no more than $5 million.

Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no US presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented,” an official statement from the iPhone make declared.

“We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system.”

Related: Future Tech: Biggest patent acquistions of the month

The Cupertino-based tech giant has also called for patent reform as the fine is the latest in a run of damages to be inflicted at the hands of so-called ‘patent trolls’.

Smartflash is one of a number of non-practising entities (NPEs) which buy up patents and licenses with the aim of capitalising on infringements.

U.S. President Barack Obama recently waded into the debate on patent trolls, urging Congress to reform the legal system they operate in.

According to reports, Smartflash is already targeting Samsung, Amazon and Google in other patent cases.

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