Apple has been fined $368 million after their video calling feature, FaceTime, was found to infringe on patents owned by a company called VirnetX, a company that provides solutions for secure internet communications. A US court ruled that Apple’s FaceTime product infringes on four patents by VirnetX. One of the patents at issue involved the ability to establish a secure communication link. Apple apparently has no option for appeal in this matter. VirnetX has also brought suit against a number of other larger companies over its patent portfolio. Natash Lomas of Techcrunch reports notes:
The BBC reports that the damages award is around half the amount VirnetX had originally sought. It also notes that VirnetX has previously secured a $200m settlement from Microsoft over similar claims.
The company, which has a patent portfolio of 20 U.S. and 26 international patents, has also brought cases against Cisco, Avaya and Siemens for allegedly infringing the same patents.
This is another in a recent string of legal defeats for Apple. Last week Apple was forced to amend a statement that had been ordered by a UK court that aknowledged that Samsung did not copy the iPad. A US judge also recently dismissed Apple’s case against Motorola Mobility.
The VirnetX case might also shed some light on why FaceTime isn’t open. When introduced in 2010, it was said that FaceTime would become an open standard. Many have speculated as to why that was. It may be that Apple found that they could not legally open FaceTime when some of the technology behind it was not industry-standard and under someone else’s patents. While it seemed a longshot in the first place, with the VirnetX victory, the hope of an open FaceTime, appears to be gone.