31 August 2018Patents

Apple denied new trial in VirnetX clash over FaceTime

Apple hit another roadblock in its litigation with licensing company VirnetX yesterday, when a federal judge denied the company a new trial in the patent dispute over FaceTime.

In a final judgment handed down by Judge Robert Schroeder at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Apple’s motion for a new trial over the patents was denied.

“Having considered each of Apple’s arguments in its motion for judgment as a matter of law and a new trial of non-infringement, the court concludes that Apple’s motion should be denied,” said Schroeder.

The judge also denied VirnetX’s request for enhanced damages, attorneys’ fees, and an injunction, but granted a sunset royalty, interest and costs. A sunset royalty is paid where an infringing product is phased out.

Apple is on the hook for $502 million in damages, after a jury found in April that its FaceTime service infringed four communication technology patents.

VirnetX had sued Apple in 2012 after filing a related suit against the company in 2010 (which focused on older versions of Apple’s technology).

In 2012, a jury at the same court  awarded VirnetX $368.2 million in damages. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ordered a new trial in 2014, having found that the jury award was based on defective jury instructions.

But, following another trial, Apple was  ordered to pay $625 million in February 2016 after the court opted to merge the two complaints against Apple into one suit.

Apple requested a new trial, accusing VirnetX’s counsel of trying to “confuse, mislead, and inflame” the jury.

Schroeder  vacated the verdict and $625 million award in August 2016. He also ruled that the dispute should be split into two separate trials to avoid jury confusion.

In October 2016, the first of the trials was concluded, with the jury finding that Apple had infringed two patents relating to internet security technology through its original FaceTime technology.

The jury awarded $302.4 million to VirnetX, although the licensing company reported that this award increased by $41.3 million for wilful infringement and $96 million in costs. Apple has appealed against this decision.

The second trial concluded in April this year. After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury awarded $502.6 million to VirnetX. They found that Apple had infringed US patent numbers 6,502,135; 6,839,759; 7,188,180; and 7,490,151.

Apple confirmed it plans to appeal yesterday's verdict.

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More on this story

11 December 2018   The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit yesterday sided with Apple in a patent appeal brought by licensing company VirnetX.
18 January 2019   The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has rejected Apple’s request to overturn a $440 million judgment in a patent infringement case won by IP licensing company VirnetX.
22 September 2021   Rehearings of inter partes review decisions should be stayed until the next permanent director of the US Patent and Trademark Office has been appointed, according to a request filed by tech company VirnetX.