Court upends $368M ruling against Apple for VirnetX patent infringement

30 11 2014
A top appeals court has thrown out a jury ruling that ordered Apple to pay $368 million to VirnetX, a patent-holding company that many consider a “patent troll” because it exists exclusively to enforce patents. On Tuesday, the United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the decision back to the lower federal court in East Texas.

The four patents (1, 2, 3, and 4), which relate to FaceTime and VPN On Demand functions in Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and Macs, were developed by a company called Science Applications International Corporation. Apple reportedly spent tens of millions of dollars to design FaceTime around the VirnetX patents, but it ultimately found itself embroiled in litigation anyway. The company also tweaked its VPN On Demand product to avoid infringement in 2013 after the lawsuit was well underway.

In its ruling (PDF), the appeals court did not rule that any of VirnetX’s patents were invalid, and it only reversed the finding of infringement on one claim pertaining to a VPN On Demand patent. The court also said that the Texas District Court had not correctly defined a term that appeared in two of the patents, and it sent the decision back to Tyler, Texas so the court there can reassess the patent claims based on the appeals court’s new term construction.


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