Last month, it was reported that patent troll VirnetX is seeking $532 million in damages from Apple, claiming that the company has taken its intellectual property without permission. The suit focused on a variety of VirnetX patents relating to technology used in creating Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs. VirnetX said that Apple’s own VPN technology, as well as its iMessage and FaceTime services, infringe on its patents. After another week of hearing, the East Texas Federal District Court has now unanimously ruled that Apple owes VirnetX $625 million in damages.
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All the way back in 2012, VirnetX was awarded $368.2 million in damages from Apple, but an appeals court threw out that ruling and ordered a new trial. VirnetX then went into the new trial requesting $532 million from Apple. Accounting for willful infringement and royalty calculations however, the court ruled that Apple actually owes VirnetX $625 million.
The ruling was unanimous by the East Texas Federal District, with it ruling that Apple’s VPN on Demand feature, FaceTime, and iMessage all infringed on a handful of different VirnetX patents, coming out to the grand total of $625 million (via AI). The location of the court is notable as East Texas district tends to favor the patent owner in patent-related suits.
At the beginning of the trial, VirnetX explained that Apple had “not played fair” when it came to licensing intellectual property, while Apple argued that it believes in fairness and protecting IP, but that VirnetX kept “moving the boundary, asking for more and more.”
Apple has yet to comment on the ruling, but it will likely seek an appeal. This isn’t the first time Apple has fallen victim to a patent troll, though. In 2015, it was ordered to pay $532.9 million for infringing on gaming patents of SmartFlash LLC. Not satisfied with that amount, SmartFlash then came back again looking for more, saying Apple had released products too late to be included in the initial trial. In 2014, Apple voiced its displeasure with patent trolls, saying that it is the subject of more patent-related lawsuits than any other company.
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