Apple must pay $625m after infringing patents on FaceTime and iMessage

4 Feb, 2016

Texas court rules iPhone-maker infringed on VirnetX patents

Apple has been ordered to pay $625.6 million for infringing patents used in several of its apps, including iMessage and FaceTime.

A Texas jury ruled unanimously that Apple’s iMessage, FaceTime and VPN services, as well as the devices running them, were an infringement of patents covering secure communications protocols held by Nevada-based software firm VirnetX.

VirnetX previously sued Apple in 2012 lawsuit for the same IP, when it was awarded $368.2 million in damages, and Apple was forced to redesign FaceTime’s software. That verdict was later nullified on appeal in September 2014.

Following this appeal ruling, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit called for a damages retrial. In the retrial, VirnetX demanded $532 million, but later inflated the sum to $625.6 million because Apple continued to use protocols covered by its patents in FaceTime.

VirnetX amended its second court order to include infringement allegations related to FaceTime’s redesign.

Today’s ruling, first spotted by Apple Insider, instructed Apple to pay out for infringing on VirnetX’ communication patents. Apple’s VPN On Demand feature, used in iOS 3 through iOS 6, covered by two VirnetX patents, has cost the company $334.9 million in damages.

The version of FaceTime used in iOS 4 to iOS 6 and OS X 10.7 to OS X 10.8, and its tweaked revisions, which include iMessage, also infringed on two of its patents, costing Apple another $290.7 million.

VirnetX has a reputation for being a “patent troll”, and bringing court action against large tech firms. It has previously sued Microsoft, winning a $200 million settlement in 2010, and won $23 million more in a 2014 case involving Skype.

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