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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
56,501
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virnetx_logo-250x130.jpg
The Loop points to a new Apple support document disclosing that the company will be changing the behavior of the VPN On Demand feature on iOS devices running iOS 6.1 or later through a software update to be released later this month. The changes have been necessitated by a $368 million judgment against Apple late last year in a patent lawsuit brought by VirnetX.
Devices using iOS 6.1 and later with VPN On Demand configured to "Always" will behave as if they were configured with the "Establish if needed" option. The device will establish a VPN On Demand connection only if it is unable to resolve the DNS name of the host it is trying to reach. This change will be distributed in an update later this month.
The support document outlines a number of scenarios in which this may cause difficulties for users, including when contacting servers that present different internal and external content or which resolve externally but can't be contacted.

Apple suggests that users who experience these issues turn on VPN manually as needed for the time being, a potentially significant inconvenience for users needing to make extensive use of the feature. 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 says that it will address the issue with other alternatives in a future software update, but has given no indication on what options will be available to users and when that update may appear.

Article Link: Apple to Alter VPN On Demand Behavior in iOS 6.1 and Later Due to VirnetX Lawsuit
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,379
5,657
Come again?

I don't know what this article is talking about - is it going to have an impact on me as a regular iOS user? Should I not update to iOS 6.1 to avoid having a feature taken away?
 

AZREOSpecialist

Suspended
Mar 15, 2009
2,354
1,278
A patent troll wins a $368M judgment against Apple, forcing Apple to change its software, but Apple can't get a final verdict and judgment in the obvious copying of Apple's products by Samsung? Seriously? Our system is totally messed up.
 

Rocketman

macrumors 603
$368m is a relatively large sum for a feature used by a minority of users and using a protocol used by a subset of those users. I can see why Apple would rather truncate it than license it. Perhaps VirnetX could keep in mind the down payment Apple is paying and offer lower cost licensing going forward.

Rocketman
 

TheHateMachine

macrumors 6502a
Sep 18, 2012
846
1,354
A patent troll wins a $368M judgment against Apple, forcing Apple to change its software, but Apple can't get a final verdict and judgment in the obvious copying of Apple's products by Samsung? Seriously? Our system is totally messed up.

It is messed up when Apple loses but working fine when they win. Got it.
 

Glideslope

macrumors 604
Dec 7, 2007
7,245
4,547
The Adirondacks.
$368m is a relatively large sum for a feature used by a minority of users and using a protocol used by a subset of those users. I can see why Apple would rather truncate it than license it. Perhaps VirnetX could keep in mind the down payment Apple is paying and offer lower cost licensing going forward.

Rocketman

That it is. I'm curious as to what Apple earns on it's 130 Billion in Off Shore investments in a 6m period? I'm sure the Cash Hoard is generating a nice slush fund for for these harassment suits. ;)
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,627
342
Come again?

I don't know what this article is talking about - is it going to have an impact on me as a regular iOS user? Should I not update to iOS 6.1 to avoid having a feature taken away?

No, it won't have an impact on you as a regular user. But it'll be a headache for certain IT folks if they are big on locking down BYODs.

VPN On Demand is set up on a certificate-level... basically, your workplace or whatever you're working on sets up a VPN and configures your iPhone to use it (or, requires you to configure it). And in that configuration, sets up a rule where certain websites, e-mail accounts, or other connections to certain domains require that the VPN get turned on, automatically.

This usually happens if you work at some place that handles sensitive information (top secret stuff, medical records, social security numbers, things you don't want leaking out), AND allows users to access that data over mobile devices.

Apparently, VirnetX managed to patent rule lists. Go figure.

To get around the issue, Apple is basically not honoring those automatic-turn-on rules, unless something happens at the server end to reject non-VPN'ed connections, first.


If this doesn't sound like anything you understand, or your workplace doesn't require you to use VPNs, then this definitely doesn't affect you at all, and you don't need to worry about it.
 

Masterkona

macrumors member
Oct 13, 2012
54
0
Why doesn't Apple just buy VirnetX? A controlling stake would only cost them $600 million, and it would cost them less than $1 billion to just buy the company.
 

TheIguana

macrumors 6502a
Sep 26, 2004
664
450
Canada
The sheer fact that Apple's own software engineers testified that they did not spend any time determining if an software patents existed for the systems they were building is pretty telling. If one of the largest software companies in the world doesn't even bother looking to see if software patents exist when developing a new technology than bluntly what is the point in their existence? Other than to feed the insatiable need patent trolls have to plunder.
 

Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,777
6,073
Canada
The sheer fact that Apple's own software engineers testified that they did not spend any time determining if an software patents existed for the systems they were building is pretty telling. If one of the largest software companies in the world doesn't even bother looking to see if software patents exist when developing a new technology than bluntly what is the point in their existence? Other than to feed the insatiable need patent trolls have to plunder.

I'm not surprised: It is not the job of a software engineer to sift through patents to determine if they are being used in the code.
 

epmatsw

macrumors member
Jun 18, 2007
78
1
The sheer fact that Apple's own software engineers testified that they did not spend any time determining if an software patents existed for the systems they were building is pretty telling. If one of the largest software companies in the world doesn't even bother looking to see if software patents exist when developing a new technology than bluntly what is the point in their existence? Other than to feed the insatiable need patent trolls have to plunder.

I'm pretty sure the idea behind a patent is that it's supposed to be for something that you couldn't trivially implement by mistake. The fact that Apple is just removing the code for it and never bothered to attempt to gain a patent on it themselves speaks to how trivial this patent is.
 

spacemanspifff

macrumors 6502
Jan 23, 2010
263
16
SPACE
$368 Million

Right now, I wish I owned VirnetX, if it's not a PLC or whatever you American types call them over there.
 

macintologist

macrumors 6502a
May 3, 2004
515
657
Who is "they"? VirnetX is a patent troll - they don't make any products, just hold patents so they can sue companies and make money. That is okay with you?
Yea but in order to get the patent, they had to buy it from the folks that originally invented it. All that matters is that the inventor was compensated for inventing something.
 

Dave.UK

macrumors 65816
Sep 24, 2012
1,260
432
Kent, UK
“For years Apple refused to pay fair value for the VirnetX patents,” Doug Cawley, a lawyer with McKool Smith in Dallas who represents VirnetX, said in closing arguments. “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.”

Apple was given the option to licence but refused. They went to court and lost.

Apple cant have it all ways.

----------

(Judgement against Apple) Cue 500+ posts about the patent system being broken, needs reformed, stupid patent system, patent trolls, this shouldn't even be patentable, etc.

(Judgement for Apple) Cue 500+ posts about patent system working, "die _______ die!", intellectual property should be protected, serves them right, other companies should innovate rather than copy, etc.
 

itickings

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2007
947
183
(Judgement against Apple) Cue 500+ posts about the patent system being broken, needs reformed, stupid patent system, patent trolls, this shouldn't even be patentable, etc.

(Judgement for Apple) Cue 500+ posts about patent system working, "die _______ die!", intellectual property should be protected, serves them right, other companies should innovate rather than copy, etc.

They are not really mutually exclusive, you know...
You're likely to find a nice mix of both in hot topics.
 

BC2009

macrumors 68020
Jul 1, 2009
2,066
754
VirnetX designed VPN on demand, and boy did they patent it

That's the weird thing.... It would seem they designed "VPN Always", but "VPN on Demand" somehow evades their patent.

I'm surprised that Apple is not appealing this. I'm even more surprised that the damages approach what Apple was awarded from Samsung in their lawsuit. In one case you have outright copying and infringement of several patents and trade dress and in the other you have a specific option on a specific feature used by a fraction of iOS users.

Seems to me that an appeal is in order.
 

SPUY767

macrumors 68020
Jun 22, 2003
2,034
120
GA
It is messed up when Apple loses but working fine when they win. Got it.

Actually, It's messed up when a company leverages some IP that they have no plans of ever using in an actual product, to extort money from another firm, who has been slavishly copied on numerous occasions and can't get a judgement to save its life.

----------

I'm not surprised: It is not the job of a software engineer to sift through patents to determine if they are being used in the code.

If it was we'd never finish writing any software. The problem is that people are able to patent the most vague, and trivial things, without ever having to use them, and then us programmers just do our job and solve a problem and unknowingly infringe on someone's idiotic patent.
 

envision101

macrumors newbie
Apr 5, 2013
1
0
I'm pretty sure the idea behind a patent is that it's supposed to be for something that you couldn't trivially implement by mistake. The fact that Apple is just removing the code for it and never bothered to attempt to gain a patent on it themselves speaks to how trivial this patent is.

Actually Apple did try to obtain a patent for the related technology but failed. Microsoft also tried to patent the technology in 2004 but was denied by the USPTO because SAIC/VHC already patented the technology.

IOS users should further note that Facetime was involved in the lawsuit and a workaround needs to be applied to work around the Facetime security function. It does not involve VPNs but a secure communication link, involving encryption. Wait for the media storm on that "workaround", which involves entering usernames/passwords every 3 minutes in order to keep the session working.
 
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