Apple loses patent retrial to the litigious VirnetX, ordered to pay $302.4M

Here’s yet more evidence that the US patent system needs over-hauling.

Back in February we reported that Apple had been ordered to pay $625 million to notorious litigator VirnetX after a U.S. court judged that the iPhone-maker had infringed on patents held by VirnetX in its iMessage and FaceTime services. (VirnetX often described as a patent troll because it makes almost all of its revenue from patent licensing and lawsuits).

Apple went ahead and appealed the decision, arguing that the patents in question were not valid.

But on Friday night that appeal came to nothing. A federal jury in Texas ordered Apple pay more than $302 million in damages for using VirnetX’s internet security patent without permission. The $302.4 million award was close to what VirnetX had demanded.

Apple has declined to comment. Apple will also face another a further proceeding over whether it willfully infringed the patents, according to court documents, which could lead to yet more damages. It will also have to deal with a second lawsuit filed by VirnetX covering newer versions of Apple security features.

Last August a judge rejected VirnetX’s $625.6 million win over Apple from a previous trial saying the jurors had been confused (who can blame them!).

The latest twist comes after years of fighting between the oft-called ‘patent troll’ and Apple, starting in 2010 when VirnetX, a Nevada-based patent licensor, filed suit in an East Texas federal court, claiming infringement of four security patents, including VPNs.

In this most recent trial, jurors had to work out damages on two VirnetX patents that Apple had been previously been adjudged to have infringed, and to rule on infringement and damages on another two patents.

The Eastern Texas Court where the latest trials have taken place has a known history for favoring plaintiffs in cases of alleging infringement.

Nevada-based VirnetX won $368 million from Apple in 2013 when a U.S. court ruled that it infringed on patents used in FaceTime and its VPN service inside iOS. Apple changed its services, but VirnetX came back for more, saying the changes weren’t enough. VirnetX has taken on Cisco, Avaya, Siemens and others for alleged patent violations.
It settled a 2014 dispute with Microsoft over patents used in Skype, winning $24 million and made $200 million from the firm via a 2010 case.