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Apple has been locked in a legal battle with patent-holding company VirnetX for over a decade now, but a recent verdict from the US Court of Appeals could save the tech giant from paying VirnetX $502.8 million in patent infringement fees.
According to a recent report by Reuters, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a previous ruling by the US Patent and Trademark Office, which invalidated a pair of patents that VirnetX had used in its patent infringement lawsuit against Apple.
The lawsuit in question dates back to 2020 when VirnetX claimed that Apple had infringed on VPN patents owned by the company with the iPhone’s VPN on-demand feature. As a result, Apple was ordered to pay VirnetX $503 million, but the recent appeals verdict could potentially vacate the entire judgment.
Apple had appealed the $502.8 million award verdict, and both Apple and VirnetX presented their arguments in the appeal back in September. VirnetX attorney Jeff Lamken had stated at the time that if the court sided with the USPTO and invalidated the patents in the patent validity case, VirnetX could “have a big problem” and may not have an “enforceable judgment”.
Now that the patents have been invalidated, VirnetX and Apple will meet in court once again over the initial appeals case that Apple filed to determine whether Apple will need to pay up. It is highly likely that the $502.8 million verdict will be thrown out as a result.
This is not the first time that Apple has found itself in hot water with VirnetX. In the past, Apple was ordered to pay VirnetX $440 million for violating the company’s communications security patents with the FaceTime and iMessage features.
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VirnetX has long been considered a “patent troll” or a company that generates revenue by litigating technology companies that infringe on its patents. While it does offer its “War Room” software for authenticated meetings, it does not have any actual products or services.
Despite this recent victory, it remains to be seen whether Apple will be able to put this long-standing legal dispute behind it once and for all.