Apple Backtracks on Planned Changes to VPN On Demand Behavior on iOS Devices

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 26, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Earlier this month, we reported that Apple had announced upcoming changes to the behavior of VPN On Demand for devices running iOS 6.1 or later. The changes, which were planned to be deployed in a software update later this month, were necessitated by a $368 million judgment against Apple in a patent lawsuit brought by VirnetX.

    Virtual private networking (VPN), which is most commonly used by corporate users to access company networks, allows a user to securely connect to a private network via public networks as if his or her device were directly on the private network.

    Apple's changes to the feature were to see the removal of the "Always" configuration option for VPN On Demand, with the behavior defaulting back to an "Establish if needed" option. That option does not, however, perform ideally under certain circumstances, leading Apple to suggest that users may need to resort to turning VPN On Demand on and off manually, a potentially significant inconvenience.

    The patent judgment covered previous infringement by Apple but did not address future use of VirnetX's intellectual property, and it seems that Apple had decided to simply remove the "Always" feature from iOS rather than agree to an additional licensing deal with VirnetX.

    But it now appears that the two sides may have reached an agreement, as Apple on Wednesday updated its support document on the issue to note that it no longer plans to make the previously announced change.
    It is, however, currently unclear why Apple specifically mentions that it will not be changing the VPN ON Demand feature on "devices that have already been shipped", leaving open the possibility that it may make changes to devices that have yet to ship.

    Apple's proposed changes had brought significant scrutiny from the enterprise-focused security community, with security firm Mobile Active Defense having released a detailed whitepaper (PDF) highlighting numerous issues with Apple's proposed changes.

    (Thanks, Jorge!)

    Update: Computerworld notes that in its 10-Q regulatory filing earlier this week, Apple reported that it is continuing to challenge the $368 million judgment in VirnetX's favor. The move suggests that Apple may simply be delaying making any changes to VPN On Demand until the case has run its course rather than the two companies having reached a licensing agreement.

    Article Link: Apple Backtracks on Planned Changes to VPN On Demand Behavior on iOS Devices
  2. macrumors member

    Aug 11, 2010

    No-one is interested.. few minutes, and not a single comment.
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 18, 2006
    Prestatyn, Wales, UK
    Somebody somewhere just got a load of cash...
  4. macrumors 6502


    Oct 15, 2007
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    How do you setup the "Always" on cause I've always had to manually turn my VPN Manually ON... dont have to manually turn off it turns off all by itself... as soon as screen goes to sleep it disconnects which drives me crazy...
  5. macrumors 68020


    Aug 27, 2004
    I’ll hazard a guess that the only people interested in this, are currently making money, not browsing MacRumors ;)
  6. macrumors regular

    Mar 17, 2011
    Moscow, Russia
  7. macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2011
    Oh crap this really sucks. I use VPN's all the time...oh wait, I don't even have an iPhone. Nevermind.
  8. Trik, Apr 26, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2013

    macrumors regular

    Jan 18, 2011
    Washington, DC
    I wonder if this was a bluff on Apple's part to get them to drop the licensing fees. As in,
    :apple: "Fine we'll take it off entirely, and you won't get a dime from now on"
    VirnetX: "No way you'll do that"
    :apple:**insert 6.1 release notes**
    VirnetX: "Ok ok, we'll drop the price."

    **Tim Cook sips his Mai Tai**
  9. macrumors 603


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    "Apple says they don't infringe. But Apple developers testified that they didn't pay any attention to anyone's patents when developing their system."

    Comment from the lawyer representing VirnetX. To me, that just seems to be acknowledging Apple didn't copy VirnetX, they just unwittingly ran into a 'roadblock' patent. While that makes no difference to the lawsuit, it does highlight that patents are just being given out too easily - including to Apple.
  10. macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2012

    Where is the "Always" setting?
  11. Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    It's generally set up at the enterprise level using iPhone Configuration Utility and pushed out to devices as a configuration profile.

    VPN On Demand
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2010
    I think developers are instructed not to look at patents because if you know about them then any infringement can be found to be willful and the judgement against you will be larger.

    Anytime I have looked at a patent is has left me more confused than informed so I'm pretty sure the whole system is failing at at least half its purpose.
  13. macrumors 68020


    Feb 28, 2009
    Exactly right.
  14. macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2004
    New York City
    The "already shipped" comment isn't so hard to understand. Apple has now paid for all past infringing devices, so those devices are licensed to use the software as is.

    Whether they will pay a license for new devices is still not known.
  15. macrumors 68000

    Oct 31, 2005
    So very true. VPN users are currently using their corporate equipment and networks, so are not allowed to be wasting company resources visiting a rumor site. Those not on VPN could cate less about it.
  16. macrumors member


    Nov 4, 2012
    I use a VPN for my work, but I'm here all the time :p
  17. macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2013

    NOT TRUE...Apple hasn't paid a dime yet and is still infringing without a license. The Products that came after this lawsuit are part of a second suit that has yet to come to trial. It is likely that if they reach an agreement it will be for everything and the second suit will be dropped.


    That is one wishful thinking way to be thinking about it. More like this:

    Apple: Well, we steal we don't pay
    Court: You must pay
    VirnetX: This is our rate
    Apple: No way. We will just come up with a workaround!
    VirnetX: Good luck with that.
    Users: Hey Apple, WTF is going on with VPN???
    User: Hey WTF is up with iMessage and FaceTime??? They keep going down!
    Apple: much do we need to pay again?

    While Tim Cook reads rumors of big investors asking for him to be replaced
  18. macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    And it wastes a fantastic amount of time to try to look up patents for every little thing you add, especially when practically any line of code these days is potentially something that's been patented judging by a lot of the recent cases.

    If you have to stop every five seconds to look up whether a particular usage of a socket, for loop or increment has been patented, then it just plain stops developers from doing what they're supposed to be doing; developing. This is why big companies have legal teams to look for possible conflicts, but then they don't necessarily know enough about the specifics to be able to find exact matches anyway; there are a lot of patents out there, and nearly all of them are worded in incredibly unhelpful language that makes the concept as vague as possible to all involved in the hopes of it being applicable to something only loosely related for maximum profit from zero actual development work.

    Sorry, I just really hate the stupidity in patents, and yet nothing is being done to actually fix the damn things.
  19. macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2005
    This is a big win.

    We would have needed to totally change the way we deploy iPhones if this happened. It would have broken our security model and denied access to many intranet sites.

    I spent a week trying to create a workaround, but there was none that would keep full functionality.
  20. macrumors regular

    Dec 6, 2003
    Canis Major
    It's just stupid the amount of effort and money you have to spend to find if someone, somewhere has already done the same thing you just "made". Most of the time you'll only find out when a lawyer comes knocking on your doors...

    It'd be nice if you are allowed to "reinvent" things and use what you have without paying if you can prove you independently came up with something (R&D notes, etc), since you'll have made the investment in developing that too (which is the whole point of patents, right?), but that system's going to be hell to administer and enforce... :(
  21. macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2013
    Instead of screwing your customers with this annoying workaround, Apple, how about you just spend a minuscule fraction of your eleventy billion dollars and just license the damned patent? For eff's sake, Tim, you're way ahead in the market. Stop acting as if Apple's the one always being slighted.

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