Jury to Apple: You owe patent troll VirnetX half a BEEELLION buckaroos
But the US patent office will probably save the day. Again
Intellectual property hoarder VirnetX has had another win, probably to be short-lived, against Apple in the two companies' everlasting patent spat.
A jury in an eastern Texas US district court has decided that the fruity firm infringed four patents held by the alleged patent troll, and awarded the plaintiff damages of US$502.6 million.
As followers of the trial will know, VirnetX has pursued Apple since 2010 when the first sueballs landed alleging Cupertino's VPN on Demand, FaceTime, and iMessage infringed secure communications patents.
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The plaintiff has since enjoyed occasional wins against Apple, each time overturned by a later decision:
- In 2013, Apple tried unsuccessfully to have a $368m award to VirnetX for FaceTime infringements binned;
- That decision was overturned in September 2014;
- In February 2016, VirnetX popped $625m worth of champagne after another win ...
- ... which was overturned in August of that year;
- In October last year, the tables were turned once again, and VirnetX briefly hoped for a $440m paycheck.
Part of Apple's response to the ongoing lawsuit was to ask the US Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate VirnetX's. In a separate 2016 case, the USPTO agreed.
However, the current East Texas case had already proceeded so far that, according to Bloomberg, the Federal Circuit refused to put it on hold.
In any case, to get its hands on Apple's cash, VirnetX needs to successfully appeal the USPTO decision, and survive whatever Cupertino's lawyers come up with to keep their refreshers flowing.
VirnetX was founded by a group of intelligence veterans from SAIC Inc: Ed Munger, Bob Short and Dr Victor Larson.
Its first target was Microsoft, whose 2010 decision to settle probably emboldened the patent-hoarder.
It also demanded more than $250m from Cisco, but Switchzilla prevailed in court. ®
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