Apple scores a partial win over FaceTime patent troll VirnetX

FaceTime on iPad
FaceTime on iPad (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple was previously ordered to pay $503m to VirnetX.
  • An appeal has seen that overturned.
  • A Texas judge will not have to decide where we go next.

In what is a partial win for Apple, a US appeals court has voided a previous ruling that meant it would have to hand over $503 million to licensing firm VirnetX. The proceedings have been going on for a decade now, and they show little sign of coming to a close.

A previous ruling by a Texas jury said that Apple infringed upon two VirnetX patents relating to communication methods like FaceTime. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuilt has left that ruling in place, but has reversed two more. That means that the case will now be returned to Texas for a judement. It's now up to the Texas judge to decide what happens next according to Reuters. The judge will now have to work out exactly how much Apple needs to pay.

The Texas judge must consider whether to hold a new damages-only trial or to recalculate damages without holding one, the appeals court said.

Reuters also notes that VirnetX stock fell more than 50% once the ruling was made public, something that is presumably a hazard of the job when your sole business is to horde patents and then sue companies who infringe upon them. VirtnetX doesn't produce anything that makes use of those patents.

VirnetX and Apple have been fighting over patents since 2010 in rollercoaster litigation that has triggered wild swings in the technology licensing company's stock price.

Ten years and counting.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.