It’s a sad fact that most large tech companies spend a lot of time and resources dealing with patent trolls. Being one of the biggest organizations in the world means that Apple faces more of these lawsuits than any other firm. Usually, the iPhone maker defeats the claims, but it's lost the latest battle; Apple has to pay more than $302 million in damages for infringing on patents in a case brought by VirnetX.
Apple has been engaged in legal wranglings with VirnetX, which makes almost all of its money from patent licensing and lawsuits, since 2010. A court ruled in 2012 that Apple had infringed on VirnetX network patents with products such as FaceTime and iMessage, and was ordered to pay $368.2 million in damages.
The Court of Appeals partially overturned that decision and ordered a new trial. In February this year, an East Texas court ordered Apple to pay VirnetX $625.6 million, but the ruling was voided after US District judge Robert Schroeder felt that combining two lawsuits (one over FaceTime and the other over VPN technology) into one trial created the "potential for juror confusion." He ruled that both cases needed to be trialed separately at a later date.
In the latest trial, a jury had to determine damages on two VirnetX patents on which Apple has already been found to have infringed upon. It also had to rule on infringement and damages relating to two other patents. The $302.4 million award was a similar amount to what VirnetX had demanded.
Apple could face paying out even more in damages if the court finds that it willfully infringed on the patents. It also has to deal with a second VirnetX lawsuit that claims patent violations in newer versions of Apple’s security features.
Apple said it plans to appeal the latest verdict.