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Apple ordered to pay $302.4M in damages to VirnetX in patent retrial

A federal jury on Friday found Apple's FaceTime product in infringement of patents owned by non-practicing entity VirnetX, a decision that will cost Apple more than $302 million in damages.




The verdict was handed down by Judge Robert Schroeder, who presided over the case in the patent holder-friendly East Texas Federal District Court in Tyler, Texas, reports Reuters.

Apple's court battle with VirnetX dates back to 2010, when the NPE accused Apple and a handful of other companies of violating five patents covering virtual private networking. In 2011, VirnetX narrowed its target, accusing the iPhone 4S of infringing on a single VPN patent.

Apple was left on the hook for $368 million when it lost the iPhone 4S suit in 2012, but the ruling was vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last September. A damages retrial in February combined the two VirnetX actions, with the jury finding in favor of the NPE and slapping Apple with a $625 million penalty.

VirnetX's celebration was short lived, however, as Schroeder tossed the $625 million award, saying repeated references to earlier cases likely confused jurors, leading to an unfair trial. As a result, a pair of retrials were ordered, one of which was ended with today's $302.4 million decision. A separate trial will determine whether Apple willfully infringed on VirnetX IP, meaning the company could face an even higher penalty.

According to the report, the jury was asked to assign damages related to two VirnetX patents of which Apple was already found to have infringed, and to decide infringement and potential damages of two other patents. Earlier this month VirnetX saw four patents-in-suit deemed invalid by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, though it has yet to enter an appeals process that ultimately ends at the Federal Circuit. For now, the patents will remain valid in the eyes of the court until all appeals avenues have been exhausted.

For VirnetX, today's jury award is the latest in a string of court wins involving large technology firms. The holdings company successfully leveraged its patent portfolio against Microsoft, which settled out of court in 2010 for $200 million and again in 2014 for $23 million in a case involving Skype.