Apple Won't Need To Pay VirnetX A Single Cent, For Now

Apple almost needed to pay VirnetX, a patent holding company, $625.6 million, a lot more than what it is demanding from Samsung over patent infringement. It seems, however, that the stars are aligning in Apple's favor. At least for now. Tyler, Texas District Judge Robert Schroeder overturned an earlier verdict awarding VirnetX that lump sum on the grounds of an unfair trial. However, Apple isn't exactly in the clear yet, as the judge did order two separate retrials, where Apple could still come out with a hefty fine.

The case between Apple and VirnetX goes way back in 2012, when the latter, which is what some would label as a patent troll, sued Apple over patents used in VPN technology as well as in the FaceTime video chat service. Unfortunately for Apple, the jury sided with VirnetX back then and was ordered to pay $368 million in damages, plus 1% royalty on every infringing device sold.

Some might call it greed, but early this year, VirnetX went back to court demanding more from Apple, to the tune of $532 million. For the second time, VirnetX won and even got more than what it wanted. The jury added $93.6 million on top of that for "continued willful infringement". Suffice it to say, Apple was in a very deep hole.

Third time, however, was not a charm for VirnetX now that the verdict, and the sum, has been overturned. According to Jude Schroeder, the entire trial was unfair to Apple as it compounded two VirnetX lawsuits, one on the VPN technology and the other on FaceTime, into a single trial. The not so small sum of references plus repeated references to prior verdicts may have confused the jury and biased it against Apple, resulting in the additional willful infringement verdict tacked on.

That said, the judge isn't giving Apple a get out of jail free card, so to speak. He ordered a retrial, but separately this time. The first one is scheduled on the 26th of September. Given that the Apple has already been found guilty of infringement, those trials will really just revolve around settling how much it will have to pay. Nonetheless, the judge's ruling definitely didn't do well for VirnetX's shares, and the company is most likely to bite back hard in those coming trials.

SOURCE: Reuters