VirnetX, which calls itself a “patent holding company” (aka patent troll), sued a bunch of major corporations back in 2010 over infringement on VirnetX’s VPN-related patents. Microsoft settled with VirnetX in 2010 for $200 million. The fight between VirnetX and Cisco, Avaya, and Siemens, is still ongoing with trials schedule for later this year. And Apple has been slapped with a judgement to pay $368.2 million in damages.
VirnetX originally sought $708 million from Apple in damages for infringement upon VirnetX’s VPN-related patents that are “from work performed by [a former employee of] Science Applications International Corporation… for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to develop secure communications”. VirnetX asserted Apple violated VirnetX’s patents in various applications, including FaceTime which apparently makes use of VPN technology.
Last November a jury awarded VirnetX $368.2 million in damages; not quite the $708 million they were looking for but enough to make VirnetX one of the more successful patent trolls out there. Apple, of course, appealed the verdict and asked the judge either for a retrial or a decrease in damages; at the same time, VirnetX looked for an injunction against Apple products. Judge Leonard Davis, of Eastern District of Texas (a court notorious for favoring patent holders), denied requests of both and held up the damages awarded by the jury. On top of that, Judge Davis ordered Apple to come to a licensing agreement with VirnetX within 45 days and pay VirnetX $330,211 per day until that agreement is finalized.
I am not one for favoring patent trolls, but in the case of Apple I may make an exception. After all, what goes around, comes around.