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Apple loses bid for new trial in VirnetX case, appeal still possible

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A federal judge on Thursday denied Apple's motion for a new trial in a long-running patent case leveled by non-practicing entity VirnetX, a suit that left the iPhone maker on the hook for $502.6 million.

In a final judgment handed down in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Judge Robert Schroeder entered an order denying an Apple motion for a new trial on certain merits of VirnetX's case. The jurist also denied-in-part and granted-in-part a VirnetX Motion for Entry of Judgment and for Equitable and Statutory Relief.

Details of both parties' motions are unknown as related dockets are currently sealed. With a final judgment entered, however, Judge Schroeder has closed the case.

Apple in April was found by a jury to have infringed on four VirnetX patents with its secure communications products. VirnetX sued Apple in 2012 over the company's VPN on Demand technology and consumer-facing FaceTime and iMessage software and services, initially seeking damages on cumulative product sales involving iPhone 5, the fourth-generation iPad, Macs running OS X Mountain Lion and other supporting devices.

The jury in that case awarded VirnetX $502.6 million in damages, adding to an earlier win that brings the amount Apple owes the NPE to nearly $1 billion.

VirnetX first filed suit against Apple in 2010. The patent holder has seen a handful of wins, but also losses on appeal. In 2012, the same Texas court ordered Apple to pay $368 million for infringing on a single patent, a judgment vacated by the CAFC nearly two years later. That case was rolled in with the original suit as part of a damages retrial in 2016 that slapped Apple with a $625 million penalty.

Judge Schroeder later tossed the huge award, saying jury confusion led to an unfair trial. A pair of retrials followed, ending in a $302.4 million victory for VirnetX that was enhanced to $439.7 million after Apple was found to have willfully infringed on the patents. Apple is appealing that decision and is likely to appeal the current case to a higher court.