Apple slapped hard with $440m patent bill in VirnetX FaceTime spat

Cupertino iGiant vows to appeal after losing round in tedious infringement boxing match

An American patent-holding biz says it will bag a $440m windfall from Apple in a long-running infringement case that seems unlikely to end any time soon.

VirnetX said Monday it had wrapped up the appeals process in an eastern Texas district court, and it now stands to collect $439.7m in total damages from the Cupertino idiot-tax operation for alleged infringement of two patents used in FaceTime for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Apple said it plans to appeal the decision. The two sides are next due back in court the week of either March 12 or March 19, 2018.

The ruling comes after the court recalculated the damages in the case, and agreed to raise the award from $1.20 to $1.80 per infringing device sold, plus attorney fees. VirnetX CEO Kendall Larsen said his company was "elated" with the decision.

"This final judgment amount is large because sales of Apple's infringing products are large. The cost of our security technology in infringing devices has been apportioned and is less than a quarter of one percent of the device's cost," Larsen said.

"We believe this established per device rate for security is very reasonable and will greatly assist us with our domestic and global licensing efforts."

That elation, however, may be short-lived. In addition to the appeal Apple says it will file in response to the latest Texas ruling, the iGiant also very recently persuaded the US Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate VirnetX's patents.

Should the appeals from VirnetX in that patent office case – which is running separately from the infringement battle – fail to overturn the officials' decision, the patents would be rendered useless for litigation. In other words, the patent infringement damages could be wiped out if Apple wins its battle to have the patents thrown out completely, pulling the rug from under VirnetX. If Apple hits that bullseye, the rest of VirnetX's dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.

And so with a weary sigh, we conclude that it will be some time before we see any resolution to this case either way. Which is great news for lawyers charging by the hour. ®


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