Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
52,059
13,669



Apple will not be able to get a rehearing in its ongoing patent battle with VirnetX to argue that the patents it is accused of infringing are invalid, reports Bloomberg.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today rejected Apple's request to reconsider a November ruling that confirmed Apple infringed on two VirnetX patents.

virnetx_apple-800x344.jpg

The patent dispute between VirnetX and Apple dates back to 2010 when VirnetX accused Apple's FaceTime feature of infringing on its intellectual property, and there are multiple lawsuits involved.

In this particular case, VirnetX was awarded $502.6 million in April 2018 after a court ruled that Apple's FaceTime, iMessage, and VPN on Demand features infringed on four VirnetX patents related to communications security.

An appeals court later reexamined the ruling and determined that Apple had infringed on two VirnetX patents, but the other two counts were reversed in November 2019 and the $502.6 million award was vacated. The case was sent back to a lower court to determine whether revised damages can be calculated or if there will be a new damages trial, but the ruling was ultimately in favor of VirnetX.

At this time, with Apple's request for a rehearing on patent validity denied, Apple and VirnetX are awaiting details on the new damages Apple will be required to pay.

In a separate case, Apple was ordered to pay $440 million to VirnetX for similar patent infringement issues. Apple appealed that ruling multiple times as well, but an appeals court in January 2019 ruled in VirnetX's favor, leaving Apple responsible for a $440 million patent infringement fee.

Article Link: Apple Won't Get Rehearing in VirnetX Patent Infringement Battle Dating Back to 2010, Court Rules
 
  • Like
Reactions: PC_tech

feldpos

macrumors newbie
Oct 17, 2016
17
41
selling it off or licensing is a valid form of business, especially for colleges and universities.

Private colleges/universities, yes. Public, no.

If the government funded your work you shouldn't get to profit from it or be allowed to patent it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Marekul
Comment

aliensporebomb

macrumors 68000
Jun 19, 2005
1,887
308
Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth
Are these the people who are all based in a certain district of Texas where the judges are the fathers of the lawyers and it's a big scam?

Watch Austin Meyer's trailer for his documentary - it's actually fascinating how these guys have abused the system.

Yes, Austin Mayer is the guy who wrote X-Plane. He was sued for putting his flightsim on the google play store. Basically, someone patented the "idea" of having an app store online and they are suing everyone
even remotely affiliated.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: douglasb7
Comment

CarlJ

macrumors 603
Feb 23, 2004
5,277
9,080
San Diego, CA, USA
The original intent of the patent system was to encourage innovation by rewarding those who came up with said innovations with a limited period of exclusivity during which they didn't have to worry about others copying their idea and selling it. Thus part of the original idea was that said innovation had to be non-obvious.

We keep running into a problem now where someone comes up with a notion (perhaps a thoroughly fleshed out design, but often not), and gets a patent for it, and then other people come along later (sometimes right away, sometimes years later), and, trying to solve the same problem, end up with precisely the same solution... but they can't use that solution, because it's patented. And either they're caught by surprise when they get sued, or they have patent lawyers who say, "nope, can't use this because we found a patent".

Sure, in a few of these cases, these other people coming along have seen the patented solution (and in those cases, they should get taken to court), but in many cases they have not. Given the same task to solve, they came up with the same approach to solving it. That suggests that solution was an obvious solution to the problem at hand, which means the patent fails the non-obvious test, and should not have been granted in the first place (remember, the patent wasn't to keep people from thinking up the same idea, it was to keep them from copying/stealing your idea).

I can't say whether, in this case, the developers at Apple knew of VirnetX's work. I rather suspect they didn't. I wish there was a way to get patents on obvious ideas invalidated.
 
Comment

PlayUltimate

macrumors 6502
Jul 29, 2016
451
626
Boulder, CO
Not even sure how to think about this and other such things. Music copyright (there's only so many notes). Albeit software patents seem to be the worst since nothing is really "created". Just an idea on a piece of paper.
 
Comment

Sasparilla

macrumors 68000
Jul 6, 2012
1,543
2,525
The interesting thing in all this, is that the people running VirnetX have ties to the NSA. The original claim forced Apple to change Facetime from a client to client architecture over to a client to server to client architecture (centralized via a server). No price was given to allow Apple to keep the client to client architecture, back at the time.

http://anewdomain.net/who-is-virnetx-apple-must-pay-300m-plus-breaking/
 
Comment

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,693
Albeit software patents seem to be the worst since nothing is really "created". Just an idea on a piece of paper.

It doesn't cost any money to write software? They don't pay highly-trained scientists and engineers many millions of dollars to develop, say, new video compression algorithms or new schemes for wireless networking?

Thanks to computers and digital media, the economy has evolved to paying for intangibles. These have to be protected.
 
Comment

oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,457
12,650
Europe
I wish there was a way to get patents on obvious ideas invalidated.
There is. It's called Inter Partes Review ("IPR"). It's a process much cheaper than litigation that allows anyone to ask a special board at the USPTO to take a second look at a patent. Historically, that process has resulted in roughly 75% of patents they look at to be found invalid. Patent owners call them the patent death squad, while defendants usually hail them as cleaning up the system.

Apple tried to IPR these patents and did not succeed. If the patent death squad didn't rule them to be obvious, that should tell you how non-obvious they are.
 
Comment

timborama

macrumors 6502a
Oct 12, 2011
609
1,230
The interesting thing in all this, is that the people running VirnetX have ties to the NSA. The original claim forced Apple to change Facetime from a client to client architecture over to a client to server to client architecture (centralized via a server). No price was given to allow Apple to keep the client to client architecture, back at the time.

http://anewdomain.net/who-is-virnetx-apple-must-pay-300m-plus-breaking/
Correct. Apple let this go way too long. FaceTime has never worked properly since they changed their infrastructure because of this suit. All too frequent "poor connection..." ever since this suit started. Apple should have just bought the company or settled to keep the FaceTime client to client architecture.
 
Comment

CarlJ

macrumors 603
Feb 23, 2004
5,277
9,080
San Diego, CA, USA
Pay up and let’s get on with life.
I'm curious, if they pay up, can we then get the originally-intended features of FaceTime that where blocked by this series of suits? I seem to recall Apple saying it would publish it as an open standard, and there were a few other features named, but I may be crossing wires.
 
Comment

DaveN

macrumors 6502a
May 1, 2010
677
362
Is it guaranteed that they're a patent troll? Inventing new IP and then selling it off or licensing is a valid form of business, especially for colleges and universities.
In this case, yes. The history behind this troll is that they were part of a government contractor SAIC which really only got government contracts because they were politically connected. They really milked the contracting system and really weren't cost effective but you were required to use them. If you create something while working at a university, government agency or as a contractor, you are typically required to turn over that patent to the government. Not so in this case. The patent, which if you look at it, isn't novel for a person working in the industry. Regardless, SAIC patented it and weren't challenged on it. Nobody used it because there wasn't a need for it. Fast forward a couple of years. Some of the managers decide to split off and guess what... they get to take the patents with them and form VirnetX.

VirnetX never makes anything. They just hire lawyers and go around suing people. The open an office in Zephyr Cove at Lake Tahoe but it is't much bigger than a phone booth. Nobody is ever there at least the times I drove by. It isn't there anymore so I don't know where they are. Enter in Apple who ends up using the method that any network engineer would use to connect two disparate locations. Oops, that is covered in a generalized patent vaguely and the patent owner sees $$ signs. Where do you sue? In Nevada where you are located? Nope. In California where the big $ company is located? Nope. You sue in Texas using a local attorney who just happens to related to the judge.Hey, what is good for your in-laws is good for the country right?
 
  • Like
Reactions: CarlJ
Comment

ruslan120

macrumors 65816
Jul 12, 2009
1,368
1,065
Yes it is:

Hmm I don't see the connection.. can't that be a valid business model? If the patents hold up to scrutiny and resources have been invested into research, etc

I can see both sides of the coin here because on one hand Apple doesn't want to allow this precedent and create a cluster of bottom feeders that create patents and sue Apple instead of manufacturing their own products. On the other, Apple's used its weight and resources to bully other small companies countless times before...
 
Comment

abhibeckert

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2007
284
343
Cairns, Australia
I'm curious, if they pay up, can we then get the originally-intended features of FaceTime that where blocked by this series of suits? I seem to recall Apple saying it would publish it as an open standard, and there were a few other features named, but I may be crossing wires.
The original FaceTime was a peer to peer service with Apple’s server doing minimal work beyond authentication and sending push notifications.

That’s not how it works anymore, FaceTime was re-architected to avoid infringing on these patents and now relies heavily on Apple’s servers, according to details made public by lawsuits this is burning millions of dollars per month in bandwidth/datacentre fees. They’re funding that with profit margins from hardware sales and would never let anyone on android or windows freeload on the service.

Presumably the VirnetX licensing fees were significantly higher than even that, otherwise this never would have gone to court int he first place, Apple pays patent royalties to thousands of other companies. But not this one, they’re just paying “damages” for past infringement - no settlement and license to use the patented technology. The only way FaceTime could be opened up would be if the patents were declared invalid.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DaveN and CarlJ
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.