VirnetX Holding Corp. was awarded $368.2 million after a federal jury Tuesday said Apple Inc. infringed its patents for virtual-private-network technology used in Apple’s FaceTime video-calling function.
VirnetX, which won a $200 million settlement from Microsoft Corp. in 2010, accused Apple of infringing four patents related to private networks. The case targeted Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad as well as Mac computers that use the FaceTime function. Apple denied infringing the patents and contends they’re invalid.
The VirnetX patents cover the use of a domain-name service to set up virtual private networks, through which a website owner can interact with customers in a secure way or an employee can work at home and get access to a company’s electronic files. Scotts Valley, California-based VirnetX had sought $708 million in damages.
“For years Apple refused to pay fair value for the VirnetX patents,” Doug Cawley, a lawyer with McKool Smith in Dallas who represents VirnetX, said in closing arguments. “Apple says they don’t infringe. But Apple developers testified that they didn’t pay any attention to anyone’s patents when developing their system.”
Following the verdict, Cawley said VirnetX would seek an order to block further use of its inventions. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, said the company had no comment.
The focus of the trial before U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis was on Apple’s FaceTime, which lets people use Mac computers to make video calls to an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. The Cupertino, California-based company said it used a different technology than what was covered by the VirnetX patents.
“Apple does not owe money to VirnetX,” Danny Williams, a lawyer with Williams, Morgan & Amerson in Houston who represents Apple, told the jury. “VirnetX is not entitled to money for things they did not invent. The VirnetX technology, if used, is a small part of very large, complex products.”
The case has received so much attention that Davis ordered the parties on Oct. 19 to tell their investors to stop calling the court. He said in a court filing that his office is receiving more than 10 calls a day.
The technology stemmed from work performed by SAIC Inc. for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to develop secure communications, VirnetX has said. VirnetX, based in Zephyr Cove, Nevada, was formed by former employees of SAIC, which was named as a party in the complaint though isn’t participating. According to VirnetX regulatory filings, McLean, Virginia-based SAIC may be entitled to a share of any verdict or settlement.
VirnetX reported $36,000 in revenue from royalties in the first half of this year. Its shares have gained 5.3 percent this year through the New York close, giving the company a $1.4 billion market value.
VirnetX has a separate patent case pending against Apple at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington. It also has claims against Cisco Systems Inc., Avaya Inc. and Siemens Enterprise Communications GmbH that are scheduled for trial in March. Siemens Enterprise is a venture by Siemens AG and closely held Gores Group.
The case at trial is VirnetX Inc. v. Cisco Systems Inc., 10cv417, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).
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