It looks like some of that $1.05 billion Apple won from Samsung might be heading right back out the door, if none of the lawsuits in question are successfully appealed. Apple has just been ordered to pay $368 million to a patent holding company called VirnetX, for infringing on the company’s virtual private network (VPN) related patents.
In a case first filed back in 2010, VirnetX alleged that Apple’s Facetime service infringed on their patents. The patent holding company has several patents on using a domain name service to create virtual private networks, which were originally designed for secure business transactions and the like. According to VirnetX, Facetime uses this technology, and Apple never licensed the required patents.
It’s not the first time these same patents have been used to sue big technology companies; Microsoft was hit with a similar case that resulted in them paying out $200 million back in 2010, and VirnetX has similar lawsuits in progress against Cisco and Seimens. All of them appear to revolve around the same patents, which none of the companies in question bothered to license.
Despite this verdict against Apple, they maintain that the patents are in some way invalid. One of Apple’s lawyers in the case said, “Apple does not owe money to VirnetX. VirnetX is not entitled to money for things they did not invent. The VirnetX technology, if used, is a small part of very large, complex products.”
We’re not sure where a high-end lawyer like those employed by Apple got the idea that you can’t own patents you didn’t invent and file yourself, but that seems to be their argument here. Unfortunately for Apple, the courts disagree with that misunderstanding of the patent system, and will be asking Apple to pony up. Apple, of course, has said that they’ll appeal the decision.
For their part, VirnetX was obviously pleased with the outcome of the case. The CEO of the patent holding company said of the verdict, “This victory further establishes the importance of our patent portfolio.”