After eight years of dispute, Apple must pay half a billion in damages for secure communications patent abuse.
Since 2010, Apple has been in a patent fight with Internet security software company VirnetX. Eight years on and a federal jury in Texas just sided with VirnetX and awarded the company $502.6 million in damages. It’s small change for Apple, but an important win for VirnetX.
As Bloomberg reports, four patents are involved in the dispute, all relating to secure communications used by Apple’s FaceTime, iMessage, and VPN on Demand. It isn’t the first time a ruling in the case has gone against Apple. A jury had already awarded VirnetX $302 million, which was later increased to $439.7 million and has now gone up to $502.6 million. It seems the longer Apple fights the higher the cost.
If this feels familiar, it’s because we’ve been here before, and Apple isn’t VirnetX’s only target. The company has been in litigation with both Microsoft and Cisco. Microsoft settled and paid the company a total of $223 million. It now looks as though Apple may end up paying more than double that for the legal action to end. However, there is one final ray of hope for Apple.
While VirnetX won, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) may end up having the final say in this outcome. That’s because PTAB believes VirnetX’s patents are invalid even for cases currently in progress. No final decision has been made on this matter, though, and therefore the Federal Circuit refused to delay Apple’s case.
For now, Apple’s lawyers aren’t commenting and VirnetX is celebrating a victory. It doesn’t seem certain the company will ever see that $502.6 million payout, though.