An East Texas jury has ruled that Apple must pay patent-holding company VirnetX $625.6 million for infringing four patents. It’s a massive verdict for VirnetX, a company that has no products and makes its money solely through patent litigation.
The verdict form (PDF) shows the jury found Apple infringed on every patent claim that was at issue. The first question was how much Apple should pay for infringement related to two VirnetX patents that it had already been ruled to infringe, and the jury held Apple should pay $334.9 million. The panel also found in VirnetX’s favor on other, disputed patent claims, and ordered Apple to pay another $290.7 million for infringing those. The accused products included Apple’s VPN on Demand, FaceTime, and the iMessage service.
The VirnetX v. Apple showdown may be one of the last of its kind in which a “patent troll”-style company is able to wrest a nine-figure jury verdict from a tech company. Patent trolling still abounds and is increasingly concentrated in East Texas. But the ability to get huge verdicts has been dampened by changes in case-law, particularly the Supreme Court’s 2014 Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision that made it easier for defendants to get software patents thrown out of court.
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