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Military-industrial patent troll demands BEEELLIONS from Cisco

The troll versus The Borg

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Emboldened by a win against Apple that was upheld last February, VirnetX – inventor of key VPN technologies or a patent troll, depending on your point of view and understanding of its patents – has now taken up cudgels against Cisco.

In a hearing in front of a Federal jury over a complaint first filed in 2010, VirnetX has said that Cisco owes it $US258 million for selling VPN capabilities in practically any Cisco product.

The battle against Cisco began as part of a sue-everybody suit filed in 2010. Apple, one of the many defendants in the original complaint, was ordered to pay $US368.2 million last year, a decision upheld in February. Apple was found to have infringed US Patents 6,502,135, 7,418,504, 7,921,211 and 7,490,151.

According to Bloomberg VirnetX accuses The Borg of using its technology since 2005, in products representing more than $US1 billion in revenue. Cisco's response, via counsel John Desmarais, is that “VirnetX did not invent secure communication over the Internet”, and in response to the lawsuit, Cisco says the patents are invalid and argues that VirnetX isn't entitled to damages.

The complaint “targets” - if that's the right term to use when the plaintiff seems to want a slice of pretty much every Cisco product line – routers, software, and IP phones using VPN functions, along with the Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Telepresence, and Cisco AnyConnect.

VirnetX is stacked with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), military and natsec veterans, including its former CEO Ed Munger (whose history includes SAIC and the FBI), Bob Short (SAIC) and Dr Victor Larson (Department of Defence and the “intelligence community”) - all of which are listed as inventors on the '135 patent. The other listed inventors are Douglas Charles Schmidt and Michael Williamson. The remaining patents omit Schmidt.

The company had previously stung Microsoft for more $US200 million over the same patents.

Here are links to the some of VirnetX's key patents:

  • US Patent 6,502,135 – using “seemingly random” IP addresses for source and destination, assignee SAIC;
  • US Patent 7,490,151 – a near-photocopy of '135, assignee VirnetX;
  • US Patent 7,418,504 – a secure domain name service using non-standard TLDs assignee VirnetX; and
  • US Patent 7,921,211 – pretty much the same thing as 7,418,504, assigned to VirnetX.

All Reg readers doubtless wish VirnetX well in this endeavour. ®

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