It’s not uncommon to hear of Apple being sued for patent infringement. As the saying goes, if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. It is, however, uncommon to hear of Apple losing, at least somewhat. In 2012, it was found guilty of infringing on VPN patents held by a certain VIrentX, a “patent holding” company in Nevada. Thank Apple’s lucky stars that its damages and royalty payments were overturned. But more than three years later, VirnetX has taken Apple back to court. And this time, it wants half a billion dollars.
In 2012, VirnetX sued Apple over four patents related to VPN technology and Apple’s FaceTime video chat service. A jury trial sided with VirnetX and ruled that Apple needed to pay $368 million in damages. In addition to that, the patent owner almost got a 1% royalty on iPhone and iPad revenues, which would have landed it a hefty sum.
An appeals court, however, overturned both the damages and the royalty in 2014. It based its decision somewhat on a technicality, because VirnetX’s damages expert wrongly calculated the damages Apple owed it. His calculation included features that were not part of VirnetX’s claim, like touchscreen, camera, or processor. It almost reeked of a company trying to squeeze out more than it was entitled to, with disastrous results. At least for VirnetX.
Unfortunately for Apple, the appeals court didn’t actually say it did not infringe on VirnetX’s patents but it did order a new trial. While Apple’s use of VPN on Demand was ruled to have infringed on those patents, FaceTime’s infringement has yet to be determined. And, of course, damages have to be calculated anew. Ths time, VirnetX wants $532 million. And that’s just damages, no talk yet about royalties.
VirnetX claims it has plans to make products revolving around these four patents that itself has bought from the original patent holder, but so far its business has revolved around simply licensing those patents, earning it the not so lovable moniker of being a patent troll. It is also no stranger to suing giant tech companies with mixed results. In 2010, Microsoft settles a lawsuit with VirnetX to the tune of $200 million and also paid $23 million to end claims that Skype infringed on its patents as well. However, it had less luck with Cisco, who to whom it lost a similar patent lawsuit in 2013.
VIA: Ars Technica