The Saga Continues – Apple Files for Mistrial in $625 Million VirnetX Case

The Saga Continues - Apple Files for Mistrial in $625 Million VirnetX Case
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And so, it seems, the wheels just keep on spinning in this seemingly unending patent case between Apple and VirnetX. After objecting to the jury’s almost unanimous decision to hand down a whopping $625 million judgment against Apple, the iPhone maker has apparently filed for mistrial within just days of the verdict.

Apple’s motion to file for mistrial, according to a report published in the Texas Lawyer, alleges that VirnetX lawyers’ Caldwell, Cassidy & Curry included, among other things, “arguments outside the evidence and blatantly misrepresented testimony from Apple’s witnesses.”


Just in case you haven’t been following the trial, it made headlines last week when the East Texas District Court handed down it’s understandably scathing judgment of $625.6 million against the Cupertino tech-giant — alleging the company knowing and willfully infringed on several of VirnetX patents relating to VPN protocols such as Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime.

This was just the latest, however, in a series of courtroom brawls between the two companies. The previous trial, held in 2012, had awarded VirnetX just $368.2 million; however the verdict in that case was vacated on appeal last September. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, as part of it’s ruling in that case, called for a retrial to assess damages.

Notoriously referred to as a patent troll — having accumulated a number of intellectual property patents without commercializing a single product to date — VirnetX originally filed it’s case against Apple in the East Texas town of Tyler. Strange it may seem, especially considering how the product-less company is headquartered in the tiny little village of Zephyr Cove, Nevada, just a stones throw distance from the renowned resort town of South Lake Tahoe.

But why did they file in Texas, then?” you might be wondering. “That doesn’t even make sense!”

Right? Well, surprisingly enough, over the course of the last few decades, the East Texas District Court (which covers the small towns of Tyler, Marshall, and others), has become well-known as “the patent litigation capital of America.” Texas Monthly, in 2014, profiled why towns such as Tyler and Marshall, in particular, are the preferred location for patent trials in America.

As former federal magistrate judge, Judith Guthrie, best said it, “the area was always popular with plaintiff’s lawyers. The perception was that juries weren’t as sophisticated as in other parts of the district.”

To that end, Judges in the district are said to have set up certain parameters to rapidly process cases, which, in turn, has resulted in East Texas courts being referred to as “the rocket docket” — due to its nearly unprecedented attraction of companies seeking quick and easy verdicts on complex intellectual property claims.


For their part, however, big-name corporations that actually produce products — such as Apple and Google — have been lobbying Congress for quite some time in an attempt to close the loopholes that allow “non-practicing” patent trolls around the country to drag firms into East Texas courts.

The goal? To streamline verdict awards involving little to no significant argument, which often tend to generate huge jury awards that only encourage companies like VirnetX to keep on digging for gold.

President Obama has weighed in on the issue a few times, too, believe it or not — having repeatedly addressed “costly, needless” patent litigation in his State of the Union speeches, often referring to them as “an American problem that needs to be addressed.” In a similar context, Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia, has referred to East Texas as being a “renegade jurisdiction,” in light of its notoriety for leaning towards unconventional judgments.

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