Apple Won’t Have to Pay $309M After Judge Accuses Patent Troll of Abusing System to Fleece Tech Companies

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Apple today scored a victory in an ongoing patent dispute with Personalized Media Communications (PMC), with the judge overseeing the case tossing out the $308.5 million verdict that Personalized Media Communications won in March, reports Bloomberg.

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Apple was a victim of PMC’s plan to milk the tech industry for high royalties on old ideas, U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap said when delivering the verdict. The judge decided that PMC’s patent for digital rights management is unenforceable because the company delayed its application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in an attempt to get more money.

PMC filed hundreds patent applications in the 1980s and 1990s, but no patents were awarded until 2010. The company took advantage of a loophole that allowed for an indefinite application process and then a patent valid for 17 years. This was addressed in 1995, but didn’t apply to the patents used against Apple because they were filed earlier.

PMC delayed receiving its patents until after the technology in the patent had already been adopted, letting it make more money from tech companies.

Internal documentation from PMC suggested the company had thought that Apple would be a “natural candidate” to target with delayed patents, along with Intel, IBM, and Microsoft.

PMC won a $308.5 million verdict against Apple in March after a jury said that Apple infringed on DRM patents with its FairPlay technology that is used to distribute encrypted content through iTunes, the App Store, and Apple Music.

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