U.S. Supreme Court rejects Apple appeal in patent suit with VirnetX

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App Store monopoly lawsuit might make Supreme Court. This is the latest chapter in a long-running case involving Apple.
Apple VirnetX patent infringement appeal is rejected by Supreme Court.
Photo: Supermac1961/Flickr CC

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear Apple’s appeal of a $440 million judgment in one of many patent infringement suits brought by internet security firm VirnetX more than ten years ago.

The justices rejected Apple’s appeal in the long-running case in which a federal jury in 2016 found that Apple had infringed VirnetX’s patents and awarded $302 million. A judge later increased that amount to $439.7 million including interest and other costs.

The case dates back to 2010. It was then that VirnetX filed suit in federal court accusing Apple of infringing four patents for virtual private networks, and secure communications links. The company said Apple infringed with its FaceTime and VPN on-demand features in iPhone and iPad products.

VirnetX was originally awarded $302 million in October 2016 in the dispute over VPN-related patents. Apple appealed three times saying the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had canceled “key parts” of several of the patents related to the case. Apple had no success in those appeals. With legal costs added in, the judgement was later increased to $440 million.

Apple appeals…and appeals again

Apple appealed again, this time to the high court, but in its judgement Monday it ruled not to hear the case.

VirnetX, based in Nevada, has been labeled a patent troll because it exists solely to sue larger companies over patents it has purchased. In the past, it has successfully sued Microsoft twice, as well as Cisco, Avaya, Siemens and others.

The company was also successful in another case against Apple back in 2013. It was, awarded $368 million after a U.S. court decided Apple had infringed patents relating to FaceTime and VPN technologies used in iOS.

The plaintiff decided that was not enough, so it took Apple back to court over patented technologies relating to FaceTime and iMessage and won again.

In another case, VirnetX was awarded initially awarded $502 million but the infringement ruling was partially overturned late last year. It was sent back a lower court to determine a recalculation of damages.

Apple tried contesting the validity of two remaining patents, but on February 10th the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied a rehearing on the cases.