Apple to pay $308m over digital rights management infringement


Alex Baldwin

Apple to pay $308m over digital rights management infringement

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Apple has been ordered to pay $308.5 million in damages to patent licensing company Personalized Media Communications (PMC), after a jury ruled that the tech giant infringed a digital rights management (DRM) patent.

The decision was handed down from the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Marshal Division jury on Friday, March 18, asking Apple to pay PMC a running royalty.

PMC first sued Apple in July 2015, claiming that it had sold and marketed products that infringed two of its patents, US number 8,191,091 and 8,559,635.

The DRM patents were found in Apple’s FairPlay technology used to distribute encrypted content throughout iTunes, the App Store and Apple Music.

Following the complaint, Apple challenged the validity of the patent claims in an inter partes review at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

In September 2017, the PTAB ruled that claims 13–15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, and 30 of the ‘091 patent were unpatentable and denied PMC’s motion to amend the claims. It also denied PMC’s request for a rehearing.

This prompted PMC to appeal the decision at the Federal Circuit, and in March 2020, the Circuit reversed the board’s decision invalidating claims 13–16, 18, 20, 21, 23, and 24 of the ’091 patent and affirmed the invalidation of claims 26, 27 and 30. This decision revived the case for trial.

Last week, the Texas court denied Apple’s request to find the patent invalid following a five-day trial.

The district court ruled that Apple had infringed on claims 13, 14, 15 and 16 of the ‘091 patent.

PMC operates a patent portfolio spanning from 1987 to 2020 and has licensing deals with other tech companies such as Samsung. The company is currently in several legal disputes over alleged unauthorised patent usage pending against Netflix, Google and Amazon.

WIPR has reached out to Apple for comment.

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Apple, Personalized Media Communications, District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Marshal Division