Apple wins appeal in decade-long battle with notorious patent troll
Apple has been embroiled in a decade-long battle with patent licensing company VirnetX, which is often described as a “patent troll.” In a new decision today, Apple was handed a victory by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, but the case is still not quite over.
To refresh your memory, Apple and VirnetX have battled it out in multiple different patent infringement trials over the last 13 years. In 2012, a judge in East Texas ruled that Apple had infringed upon multiple VirnetX patents related to network technology and set damages at $368 million. After multiple appeals and retrials, this case eventually made its way all the way to the US Supreme Court in 2020, where Apple’s final attempt at an appeal was denied. Apple then paid VirnetX $454 million to settle the case.
In 2016, an East Texas federal judge ruled that Apple must pay $302.4 million in damages for infringing upon VirnetX’s patents with services like FaceTime and iMessage. Those damages were then increased to $440 million due to interest, enhanced damages, and other costs. Apple attempted to appeal the outcome of this case, but its request was denied by the US Court of Appeals in 2019.
That brings us to where we are today, as Apple and VirnetX face off in a separate case regarding patents related to FaceTime, VPN, and iMessage services. In 2018, a jury in East Texas awarded VirnetX $502 million in damages, ruling that Apple had infringed upon multiple patents related to VPN technology. Apple immediately appealed that ruling with the Federal Circuit.
The patents in this case, however, were invalidated by the US Patent and Trademark Office last year. As reported by Reuters today, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the decision from the US PTO, invalidating the patents in question. The patents were deemed invalid “in light of earlier publications that described the same inventions.”
With the Federal Circuit’s decision today, VirnetX and Apple now await a final decision in Apple’s appeal of the initial verdict out of East Texas. The expectation, however, is that the invalidation of the patents will negate that initial $502 million verdict, thereby handing Apple a victory over VirnetX.
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