Patent trollin’: Apple ordered to pay VirnetX $302 million

A jury in Tyler, Texas ruled Friday that Apple infringed on two of VirnetX's patents related to its FaceTime calling feature, ordering Apple to pay $302.4 million.

The amount matches what VirnetX argued it was entitled to during opening arguments on Sept. 26. Apple countered that VirnetX deserved no more than $25 million. The case will now go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington DC.

In January 2014, VirnetX, considered by many (including me) to be a “patent troll,”  filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas seeking to supplement its infringement contentions against Apple, the defendant in a patent infringement lawsuit. And in May 2016 the company asked a Texas court to order Apple to stop providing its FaceTime and Messages features to customers, following the patent troll’s early court victory regarding patent infringement.

The motion alleged that Apple products, including products containing the redesigned VPN On Demand and Per App VPN features implemented in Apple’s iOS 7, continue to infringe VirnetX’s patented inventions. Some of the currently accused products in this lawsuit include the iPhone 5, iPod touch (fifth generation), iPad (fourth generation), iPad mini, and certain Macs.

However, in September 2014, a federal appeals court tossed out a $368 million jury award for patent infringement that VirnetX Holding won against Apple in 2012. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a specialized Washington-based court that handles patent appeals, ruled the verdict was "tainted" by erroneous jury instructions in the case. This sent the case back to a trial court.

By the way, a patent troll is an individual or an organization that purchases and holds patents for unscrupulous purposes such as stifling competition or launching patent infringement suits. In legal terms, a patent troll is a type of non-practicing entity: someone who holds a patent but is not involved in the design or manufacture of any product or process associated with that patent.