The seemingly endless legal battle between Apple and VirnetX still rages on, and the latest development may cost the tech giant half a billion dollars. A jury in Tyler, Texas has ruled that Apple has to pay VirnetX $502.8 million in royalties for VPN on Demand, the iOS feature that lets users configure their devices to automatically start or stop a VPN connection. According to Bloomberg, it took the jury 90 minutes to come to a decision.
This courtroom saga started a decade ago after VirnetX accused Apple of infringing on its intellectual properties. It says FaceTime, iMessage and VPN on Demand violate patents it owns related to secure communications, particularly from technology it developed for the US Central Intelligence Agency. VirnetX originally asked the court for $700 million, while Apple told the court it believed it owed the other party a much smaller amount ($113 million). The tech giant was ordered to pay VirnetX $450 million a few months ago, but that was for earlier versions of the features VirnetX says infringe upon its IPs. This ruling means Apple has to pay $502.8 million on top of that amount.
Eastern Texas courts, known for ruling in favor of companies infamous for filing patent litigations, have made several decisions favorable to VirnetX over the past years. Apple always pushed back and appealed, though, and it’s no different this time. An Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg:
“We thank the jury for their time and appreciate their consideration but are disappointed with the verdict and plan to appeal. This case has been going on for over a decade, with patents that are unrelated to the core operations of our products and have been found to be invalid by the patent office. Cases like this only serve to stifle innovation and harm consumers.”