Apple Loses Rehearing Bid In VirnetX FaceTime Case

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Potential setback for Apple in the patent battle between it and VirnetX, after US Court of Appeals rejects Apple plea for rehearing

Apple has suffered a legal setback in its long-running patent battle with patent licensing firm VirnetX Holdings, that potentially involves hundreds of millions of dollars.

The patent battle has seen VirnetX seeking to disable Apple’s Facetime and iMessage services, after a jury verdict that found the Apple software contained patented technology.

The case itself stretches back many years. In 2012 for example a court ordered Apple to pay VirnetX $368 million in damages, but that ruling was eventually thrown out and was followed by a retrial in 2016.

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In February 2016, VirnetX was awarded $625m (£426m) in royalties by a Texas jury who found that Apple had infringed four of the company’s patents.

The company, based in Nevada, formally asked the court for at least $190m in further damages, as well as the suspension of Apple’s Facetime, iMessage and VPN On Demand, all three of which were involved in the court decision.

Apple contested the court’s findings, and sought a mistrial and a termination to any royalty obligations.

Then in April 2018, a federal court in Texas ordered Apple to pay $502.6 million to VirnetX for violating four patents relating to internet-based communications, which mostly means the underlying technology behind Apple products like FaceTime and iMessage.

In November 2019 a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit halted a jury’s calculation that Apple should pay $503 million in damages for infringing VirnetX patents.

That part of the ruling on the surface seemed to be good new for Apple, but VirnetX was able to claim partial victory as the Federal Circuit had left in place a jury’s decision that Apple did infringe on two VirnetX patents for security communications technology.

The court said that the $503m in damages would have to be recalculated, as Apple’s redesigned version of FaceTime apparently didn’t use two other VirnetX patents.

Apple had requested that the judges sitting on the court reconsider this part of the ruling, but the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied that request on Monday, Bloomberg reported. meanwhile reported that both Apple and VirnetX are both still awaiting details on the recalculation of the damages in the first part of the lawsuit.

The Texas judge in the case must reportedly decide whether to hold a new damages-only trial or to recalculate damages without holding one.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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