Scott Daniels | November 1, 2012
Affinity Labs of Texas sued Apple in 2009, asserting that Apple’s iPods infringed a series of patents, among them U.S. Patent No. 7,486,926 that claims “content delivery systems.” Apple replied to the infringement allegations, as it frequently does, by requesting reexamination of each of the patents-in-suit. This morning the PTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled for Apple, affirming the reexamination examiner’s final rejection of the ‘926 claims as being obvious over certain prior art references.
Apple also pursued inter partes reexamination against the two other Affinity Labs patents-in-suit – U.S. Patent Nos. 7,440,772 and 7,187,947 – that are part of the same infringement action in Texas. To date, Apple has been successful in those proceedings as well: a rejection of the ‘772 claims is now on appeal at the Board, and a non-final rejection of the ‘947 is pending.
These rulings by the PTO might not have not have much practical significance in view of the apparent settlement of the litigation between the parties in September 2011. Still, it is possible that future payments from Apple to Affinity, pursuant to the settlement agreement, might be contingent on Affinity’s patents surviving reexamination.