Technology

Apple Loses Patent Lawsuit, Ordered To Pay $502M To VirnetX

Apple patent lawsuit, VirnetX
Activedia / Pixabay

Apple has been directed to pay $502.6 million in damages to VirnetX in a case that has been in the running for eight years now. The iPhone maker has been found to have infringed on four of VirnetX patents covering secure communications.

VirnetX CEO Kendall Larsen called the amount “fair,” according to Bloomberg. The infringement amount was based on the sales of over 400 million devices including the popular, premium-priced iPhone. Larsen stated that the evidences were solid, adding “Tell the truth and you don’t have to worry about anything.”

While registering the Apple patent lawsuit back in 2012, VirnetX stated that various Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Mac overstepped its intellectual property related to secure data communications. In the Apple patent lawsuit, VirnetX has been specifically vocal about Apple’s VPN on Demand technology and consumer-oriented FaceTime and iMessage products shipped as bundled software.

VirnetX pursued the damages on cumulative product sales involving the iPhone 5, the fourth-generation iPad, Macs running OS X Mountain Lion and other supporting devices. Back in 2016, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidated four of VirnetX patents-in-suit in a related case. Two of those patents were related to the present case, notes AppleInsider.

Apple has a chance of avoiding the latest verdict as well. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington is reviewing the cases after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board argued that the patents in question are in fact invalid, notes The Verge. So, it remains to be seen if the latest verdict will hold.

In February 2016, the iPhone maker was ordered to pay VirnetX $625.6 million in damages for two lawsuits combined. However, the same verdict was annulled in August of that year by a federal judge, who argued that combining two lawsuits in a single trial might have confused the jurors. The judge said that both of the cases needed to be tried separately.

Then in October 2017, a federal judge in Texas awarded VirnetX $439.7 million in damages. The amount was approximately $140 million higher than the Cupertino, California-based company was directed to pay VirtnetX a year earlier in another trial.

VirtnetX is a patent-assertion company, meaning the entire business of the company revolves around dragging companies to court that develop and sell products based on arcane patent infringement laws. VirtnetX intentionally filed the Apple patent lawsuit in East Texas, a patent troll-friendly district. In a SEC filing, VirnetX described its business saying, it is a “portfolio of intellectual property is the foundation of our business model.”

VirnetX stock surged 44% post the news of the federal ruling in the company’s favor.

In another recent Apple patent lawsuit, a U.S.-based start-up has accused the iPhone maker of infringing on its patented technology with the heart rate sensor in Apple Watch. Omni MedSci is into developing near-infrared and mid-infrared broadband lasers. “A Michigan company is suing Apple claiming the technology used to measure heart rate in the latest Apple Watches infringes on its patented technology,” says a report from Axios.

Omni MedSci claims that Apple knowingly trespassed on its patents, and thus, demands an injunction against Apple along with damages. According to the Apple patent lawsuit, the start-up held meetings with Apple from 2014 until 2016, but the discussion was called off later about a partnership, after which the company introduced technology using its approach.

AppleInsider reveals that the U.S. patent numbers “9,651,533” and “9,757,040” were granted in 2017, while U.S. patent numbers “9,861,286” and “9,885,698” were issued in 2018 to Omni’s founder and CTO Mohammed N Islam. All the patents are related to a wearable device that uses a light source, and in some cases, near-infrared LED arrays along with a receiver to capture non-invasive blood measurements. Apple Watch embodies similar technology to get the heart rate of the wearer.

In a separate development, Apple won a total of 57 patents covering the iPhone X Dot projector, a rounded Apple Watch and more, according to PatentlyApple. One of the patents is about the inventions related to the miniaturized integrated optical devices. The projector has found its way into Apple’s TrueDepth Camera. This functionality in the iPhone X camera is known as the “Dot Projector.”

Another significant patent granted is that of circular displays. Apple notes that pixel arrays mostly have rectangular shapes. However, rectangular shapes are not suitable for a device having a circular shape since there could be pockets in the circular region where signal lines can be messed up leading to inefficient use of the display area.

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