Apple may not have to pay $533 million to patent holder Smartflash. While Apple's media distribution services, including the iTunes Store, were found to violate three patents, the U.S. Patent and Trademark office has now invalidated two of those Smartflash patents.
A three-judge panel at the patent agency found that the two patents never should have been issued in the first place because the idea of storing and paying for data is an abstract concept, not a specific invention. In March, the agency said the same thing about a third Smartflash patent.
Smartflash will likely ask the office to reconsider its stance on those patents. Failing that, the company could take the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which is actually already considering the validity of the patents, and whether or not Apple used Smartflash's technology.
Apple had previously won a new damages trial in the case, after the trial judge was found to have given improper instructions to the jury.