Apple may be scoring a win in a decade-old patent battle over secure communications

Apple may be scoring a win in a decade-old patent battle over secure communications in VPN and FaceT
Where there's big tech, there are also big battles, including ones over patent infringements. Apple has been in plenty of such fights. One of them is with a patent licensing company VirnetX, a legal battle that's literally been decades long. Now, 9to5Mac reports that Apple has landed a notable victory on that front, in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, winning an appeal.

Apple and VirnetX were in patent infringement battles for the last 13 years

FaceTime and VPN on Demand being services allegedly infringing on patents by VirnetX

The patents we are talking about are the center of a decade-old battle that spread over multiple lawsuits. It all started in 2010, with VirnetX alleging that Apple's FaceTime and VPN on Demand infringed four secure communications patents.

Back in the now-so-distant 2012, a judge in East Texas ruled that Apple has infringed upon those VirnetX patents related to network technology and communications. The judge set Apple to pay damages. Then, a multitude of appeals and retrials occurred (as these things go!).

In 2016, an East Texas federal judge ruled that Apple must pay $302.4 million to VirnetX. Then, the damages increased to $440 due to interest and other costs. Apple requested to appeal but was denied by the US Court of Appeals in 2019. But the battle raged on and the case made its way all the way to the US Supreme Court in 2020.

It was in 2020 that Apple's final attempt at an appeal on that one lawsuit was denied. Apple had to pay (and did so) VirnetX $454 million to settle the case.

There were multiple trials going on between the two companies since the beginning of the saga though.  

There's a separate lawsuit, again regarding patents related to secure communications (the two patents are Patent Nos 6,502,135 and 7,490,151 (via Bloomberg Law)). For that case, in 2018 a jury in East Texas ordered Apple to pay $502 million in damages to VirnetX, because of infringement of patents related to VPN technology. Apple, of course, appealed.

Interestingly enough, last year the patents in question were invalidated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the decision from the USPTO thus rendering the patents in question invalid. The reason - the patents were deemed invalid "in light of earlier publications that described the same inventions."

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Now Apple and VirnetX are waiting for a final decision in Apple's appeal of the initial verdict out of East Texas. It seems like the invalidation of the patents will negate the $502 million verdict, and it's expected that Apple will get to score the victory over VirnetX.

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