VirnetX’s $502 million appeal against Apple has failed — 14 years of court battles now come to a close

Apple Walnut Street store
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has been embroiled in over a decade of lawsuits with one company, and the biggest case so far has just been axed by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

As originally reported by CNBC, VirnetX’s bid to overturn a successful appeal between Apple and VirnetX last year will not be heard. VirnetX originally won the $500 million+ lawsuit but the verdict was swiftly overturned in March 2023, where VirnetX then immediately tried to appeal. After almost an entire year, it will not be going ahead. 

This is all in relation to a VPN patent filed by VirnetX and subsequently allegedly infringed upon by Apple with iMessage and FaceTime. CNBC reported that VirnetX told the “Supreme Court that letting the rulings stand would incentivize the harassment of patent owners at the board.”

A history of suits

In 2020, The Verge, a major tech outlet, called VirnetX a “patent troll” implying it files patents purely to sit on them and sue companies that infringe on them. This could be due to the sheer volume of filed patents or patents with vague terminology so as to encapsulate many use cases. These patent trials appear to be the central way VirnetX has made its income since being founded in 2005. In that same article from The Verge, it says Virnet X is “a patent-assertion entity that makes money by suing other companies.”

2010 was when VirnetX brought the first of its cases to trial with it winning $23 million in 2014 from Microsoft for a patent infringed by Skype. In 2014, VirnetX originally won $368 million in damages for infringing copyrights from Apple, which was then bumped up to $625.6 million by 2016, thanks to ongoing royalties. These involved four central patents that VirnetX claims are being infringed. 

A subsequent retrial also resulted in VirnetX’s favor but two of the patents were deemed invalid in a follow-up trial, with the last two being overturned in March of last year. After 14 years of trials, based on a handful of different patents, Apple has finally seen off this case. 

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James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.

  • iebock
    I am so glad to see this happen. These companies that do nothing more than sue other companies to make money are the scourge of any industry.