Re: Good for this case but.... 8 years and it's still going...
Patent attorney here.
>Apple can keep attempts to stop them infringing in the courts until the person who owns the patent goes bankrupt / dies / etc.
I see that often. Large opponents tend to try to strangle the patent owner rather than settle.
A patent is supposed to be the little guy's means to stand up against the big guys but that requires a bit of planning. First off you can buy IPR insurance. One of my clients has survived attacks from a major international corporation clearly infringing my client's rights. With the treble damages rules this corporation is increasingly facing a huge abyss after years and years of massive sales and bad faith.
Also selling the patent to a patent litigator (including trolls) is also a possibility but also a realistic threat. The infringer would then go from harassing a small player to facing a battle hardened opponent going for the jugular. And this is one of the reasons large companies complain about trolls, since it changes the balance of power.