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The Owner of Smartflash Reveals a Barrage of Death Threats against him since Beating Apple in a Patent Infringement Case


Back in May 2013 Patently Apple was the first to report on a company by the name of Smartflash suing Apple over the iTunes Store Allegedly infringing several of their patents. In February of this year we reported that Smartflash had won their case against Apple that was argued in a Texas court district that has a long standing reputation for supporting patent troll cases. While Apple vowed to appeal the case, Smartflash decided to strike at Apple while the iron was hot by filing a second patent infringement case. Now Smartflash inventor is talking to the Huffington Post about the overwhelming amount of death threats that he and his family have had to endure since winning their case against Apple.


Patrick Racz explained to the Huffington Post that "Nothing prepared me for the anonymous death threats and emailed abuse from the real trolls that are out there." The threats ranged from stating that he was going to be "The next candidate for an Isis execution in Iraq", to he "should be burnt at the stake" and that he was worthless and had to die.


Apple's argument before the court was that even if Racz is the inventor, the patents were invalid under the Supreme Court's Alice ruling which argues that abstract ideas using a computer are not eligible under section 101 of the patent act.


Thomas Leonard a Partner at Kilburn & Strode (a leading patent and trade mark attorney firm in Europe) explains that, at its core, the case is about something very simple. "The US law says you can get a patent for any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter. But you can't get a patent for something that's simply an abstract idea, even if it is electronically implemented, for example by using a computer."


Leonard believes that the issue with these patents is whether they relate to an abstract idea (and hence are not "patent eligible") or whether they relate to a patentable invention that can solve a "technical problem in a technical way, to use the European equivalent language". So in this case, it boils down to whether Racz's patents include the key technical elements needed for iTunes' digital payment and download system to work and to take the invention beyond the "abstract idea" threshold.


While Apple is appealing the case, Smartflash is urging the judge to triple the amount awarded to 1.6 billion for willful infringement.


In the end, it appears that Patrick Racz used the threat-angle as a means of getting his story heard by the Post because 90% of the report is really about getting his side of the story out to the public. Will his story draw sympathy in the public? While only time will tell – I rather doubt it.


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