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$300 Million Jury Verdict Delivered Against Apple - Should You Be Worried About FaceTime and iMessage?

On Friday, September 30, a jury in the Eastern District of Texas hit Apple with a verdict that ordered them to pay over $300 million in damages to VirnetX, a Nevada-based patent licensing company describing itself as an "Internet security software and technology company with patented technology for securing real-time communications over the Internet including 4G LTE security." This award stems from a jury instruction to determine damages for infringement of two patents and determine infringement and damages of two more patents. The patents in question were originally assigned to VirnetX by Science Applications International Corp. in 2006.

This is actually the third jury verdict VirnetX has captured against Apple. VirnetX originally filed a patent infringement suit against Apple in 2010, claiming Apple infringed four of VirnetX's patents by using the technology in its FaceTime application. In 2014, the original damages award of $368.2 million was overturned by the Federal Circuit because of an issue with the jury instruction. After a remand, the suit was combined with another, and VirnetX received a verdict of $625.6 million. This award was voided in July because of repeated references to the earlier case, and the Honorable Robert Schroeder thought these references may have affected the jurors.

While this award may seem large, VirnetX was originally seeking something much bigger. In May, VirnetX asked the Texas court to order Apple to cease providing its FaceTime and iMessage applications. As you can tell by the blue messages on your iPhone, VirnetX has so far been unsuccessful in this request. Similarly, as of this afternoon, FaceTime still worked as well. However, it is important to note that the September 30 verdict only relates to the FaceTime technology. VirnetX has a second lawsuit filed against Apple over technology in its iMessage applications and security.

If history is any indication, Apple is likely going to be on the hook for a steep damages award in its iMessage trial. VirnetX would not have won over three separate juries, to the tune of $368 million, $625 million, and $300 million, if it did not have very convincing facts on its side. On the other hand, the eastern Texas jury was unwilling to ask Apple to stop providing its FaceTime feature. It looks like our blue messages are safe.





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