Judge Saves Apple $625 Million With The Swipe Of A Pen

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Apple no longer has to pay a dubious tech company $625.6 million for allegedly infringing on patents because a judge threw away the original verdict.

VirnetX originally won a jury trial against Apple in February. Then, U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder published an official order July 29 that overturns the prior verdict and calls for a new trial, which is set to commence in September. Schroeder threw away the previous ruling because the intricacies of the consolidated trial “had significant potential to confuse the jury.”

VirnetX stock plummeted more than 40 percent following the announcement of the decision, according to Ars Technica.

VirnetX is often considered a “patent troll,” which is when a company attempts to enforce patent rights by potentially distorting or embellishing the facts of the patent’s specifics or general value. Patent trolls do not develop, manufacture or sell technology, but create revenue by licensing patents originally obtained by other entities.

VirnetX is suing because it stated that Apple’s virtual private network on demand (“VOD”) and FaceTime technologies were originally its own.

Schroeder finds “after reviewing the briefing and holding a hearing, the Court consolidated the cases” and “different versions of VOD and FaceTime were accused features and the same patents were asserted.” Essentially, different capabilities were cited under the same lawsuit, potentially as a means to increase the chances of a declared patent infringement.

Schroeder argues that since “the jury was not presented with the question of whether FaceTime infringes the asserted claims under a construction requiring anonymity” that the court remands “for further proceedings to determine whether Apple’s FaceTime servers provide anonymity.” In other words, VirnetX did not sufficiently address the relevant questions of the patent infringement, like the specifics of the functionality, during the original trial.

Thus, a retrial must occur to have a completely legitimate, all-encompassing proceeding and if payments are due, there must be a “new damages calculation.”

Apple is not off the hook yet, as more legal proceedings will surely continue.

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Eric Lieberman