Apple Ordered to Pay $502M After iMessage Patent War

iMessage-MacBook Credit: Apple
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Apple this week was ordered to pay out $502.6 million in damages to the notorious patent-only entity, VirnetX, with whom the iPhone-maker has been entwined in a gruesome back-and forth legal dispute for the last six years or longer. 

Including this week’s judgment, which was handed down on Tuesday by a federal jury overseeing the case in Eastern Texas District Court, Apple is liable for over $1 billion in penalties owed to VirnetX — constituent with Apple’s supposed infringement of at least four of the firm’s patents, inherently having to do with its FaceTime, “VPN on Demand” and iMessage protocols.

VirnetX CEO, Kendall Larsen called the half-billion sum “fair,” according to a Bloomberg News report which went on to note that this week’s infringement penalty is pursuant with the Apple’s sale of “more than 400 million devices” including premium iPhone and iPad models.

“The evidence was clear,” Larsen noted. “Tell the truth and you don’t have to worry about anything.”

Apple vs. VirnetX

Lodged back in 2012, VirnetX’s original complaint accused various Apple products (including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and some Mac computers) of infringing on the non-practicing entity’s intellectual property covering various “secure data communications” platforms, such as its FaceTime, iMessage and VPN on Demand.

VirnetX originally sought damages pursuant with “cumulative product sales” of Apple’s iPhone 5, fourth-generation iPad, Mac computers running OS X Mountain Lion and other devices boasting the company’s bundled FaceTime, iMessage, and VPN software.

The firm initially sought as much as $625.4 million in damages, but the legal battle itself has largely been a spectacle of back-and-forth arguments, with the initial case having been tossed out the door, entirely, and multiple, subsequent cases being filed by VirnetX and Apple, respectively.

Meanwhile, back in 2016, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) moved to invalidate four of VirnetX patents — two of which were apparently leveraged in the latest case, resulting in this week’s judgment. That being said, it’s currently unclear whether the verdict will be upheld — or whether Apple stands another chance at repealing the judgment as it has in the past.

VirnetX, who has neither created nor marketed a single tangible product, is currently in the process of appealing the aforementioned PTAB ruling, implying that though they were previously invalidated, the firm’s patents still remain valid in the eyes of the court until further notice.

Apple’s lawyers have yet to respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment on this week’s development, but it’s safe to say that if it’s possible, the iPhone-maker will appeal the judgment.


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