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Businesses Communications Patents The Almighty Buck The Courts United States Apple Technology

Apple Must Pay Patent Troll More Than $500 Million In iMessage Case (bloomberg.com) 75

A federal court in Texas today has ordered Apple to pay $502.6 million to a patent troll called VirnetX, the latest twist in a dispute now in its eighth year. "VirnetX claimed that Apple's FaceTime, VPN on Demand and iMessage features infringe four patents related to secure communications, claims that Apple denied," reports Bloomberg. From the report: The dispute has bounced between the district court, patent office and Federal Circuit since 2010. There have been multiple trials, most recently one involving earlier versions of the Apple devices. A jury in that case awarded $302 million that a judge later increased to $439.7 million. Kendall Larsen, CEO of VirnetX, said the damages, which were based on sales of more than 400 million Apple devices, were "fair." "The evidence was clear," Larsen said after the verdict was announced. "Tell the truth and you don't have to worry about anything." For VirnetX, the jury verdict in its favor could be a short-lived victory. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has said the patents are invalid, in cases that are currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington. The Federal Circuit, which handles all patent appeals, declined to put this trial on hold, saying it was so far along that a verdict would come before a final validity decision.
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Apple Must Pay Patent Troll More Than $500 Million In iMessage Case

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  • Patents are broken. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mr0bvious ( 968303 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @08:37PM (#56415529)

    Not much more to it really.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @08:57PM (#56415621)

      We need more cases like these to incentivize big corps to get behind patent reform. They still feel like the current system works to their benefit, since the ability to shut down upstart competitors is more important to them than the occasional troll payout.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Oh, one of my cities has been nuked. What should I do?

        a) Propose global disarmament.
        b) Buy more nukes.

        or more like

        c) If I have the power, a) for others + b) for me

      • Not only patent reform, but also a reform of that jury system.
        How many countries do use juries? And for kind of cases?

        In Germany this would be decided by the judges, based on what the parties bring as arguments and on expert opinions.

    • Also Tyler TX is a corrupt East Texas hick town founded on the Federal courthouse. Their economy has been funded to varying degrees on this sh--. Tyler even has some vicious traffic traps to fill the coffers since they spent all the oil money.
      • by chthon ( 580889 )

        Actually, this reminds me of an episode of "The Invisible Man", the first series with David McCallum. When reality become stranger than fiction...

  • They claim to have products, do they really qualify as a patent troll? I thought patent trolls just bought up crappy patents and try to collect on people who actually created products that are "close enough" to fool that corrupt judge down in TX. Still lame no matter what.

    • Re:patent troll (Score:5, Interesting)

      by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @10:09PM (#56415873) Homepage Journal
      Marshal, TX literally would not exist if it wasn't for the corrupt courts there. The judges there will keep gorging at the trough that feeds them until it's taken away forcefully by the supreme court, at least that's the hope.
      • This is a weird way to run a country.
      • Marshall, TX was founded in 1841. It existed before patent trolling was a thing and is pretty decent size for cities in the area (23k) Why would it not exist?

        • They did not say it would have never existed, only that it would not currently exist. What "thing" besides handle patent cases does Marshall do now?

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @11:03PM (#56416053) Journal

      That's a good question. There are arguments both ways.

      VirnetX WAS a research and development company that employed a lot of scientists and did good work. They z created* technology, they didn't mass produce and market it. Instead they did the research and licensed their patents to telecommunications companies and others.

      Then somewhere along the line they realised they could *buy" parents cheaper than they could do the original research. They started licensing out patents that they bought, serving as a match-maker between researchers and companies that needed the technology. So far so good, in my opinion. We can see they got into the patent business, though.

      Patent trolls frequently use "submarine patents", surprising companies *after* they have developed a product. That's not the case here. Apple engineers knew they were violating patents as they developed Apple's products. I don't know if Apple discussed license terms with VirnetX.

      On the other hand, it seems these patents may not be valid after all. Patent trolls do frequently use questionable patents.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Every time I am writing a line of code whatever the line, I know that I am violating patents. Patent system is broken. What is your point?

      • Bullocks. They're a troll and nothing more. Real artists ship.

  • by xx_chris ( 524347 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @08:46PM (#56415567)
    Well, the Eastern District of Texas at least.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why does the Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision not create immediate grounds for dismissal? Oh, right, East Texas.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why is round edge rectangles worth billions?
      Oh wait, San Jose USA

  • Or.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Memnos ( 937795 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @09:00PM (#56415639) Journal

    Dear Apple,

    I offer to make everyone involved in the action against you "go away", at a significant discount vs $500M. I can assure you that it will all appear to be random happenstance.

  • Parasites (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is the kind of capitalism that we would get if the hardcore right-wingers and libertarians had their way. Pure fascism. A world ruled by absolute psychopaths, corporate monopolies, and vulture capitalist parasites.

    But of course, these idiots will tell you that this is all the fault of the evil guberment and their evil patent law, or some other nonsense. Listening to them you would think that without governement, the world would be a paradise. Guess what asshole: Without governement, the world would be

    • by Anonymous Coward

      An anarchy with extreme patent enforcement. I've seen a lot of bugfuck ideas about libertarianism, but I've never seen that particular kink. Well done.

    • by zabbey ( 985424 )

      Without governement, the world would be anarchy

      No shit.

      anarchy
      noun
      absence of government

    • Re:Parasites (Score:5, Informative)

      by youngone ( 975102 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @11:17PM (#56416117)
      The sorts of Libertarians that post here are a weird US only thing as far as I can tell.
      I guess you have to grow up with an extreme level of right-wing propaganda surrounding you all your life before you can take any of that nonsense seriously.
      They're just useful idiots for the US ruling class anyway, ignore them.
  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @09:39PM (#56415771)

    It's a strange quirk in the process that even though the patents have been declared invalid the ruling stands, at least until the validity of the patent has been adjudicated fully.

    It's the legal system doing out-of-order speculative branch execution for the court/legal system - with promises.

  • on a global planetary clean up effort. Since the $ resulted in environmental pollution we cant afford.
  • by Lodragandraoidh ( 639696 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2018 @12:10PM (#56418261) Journal
    • Apple Must Pay Patent Troll...

    should read:

    • Patent Troll Wins Case Against Apple...Award Pending Appellate Ruling

    Reading the article, Apple isn't paying anything until the final appellate court's adjudication, which very likely will invalidate the patents in question.

    IANAL

    • Original article title was:

      • Apple Must Pay $502.6 Million to VirnetX, Federal Jury Rules

      ...which has the key piece of information after the comma, lacking in the posting title. Did Slashdot editor do this on purpose, to generate sensationalist rhetoric in the comments section?

  • make it illegal to try patent cases in Texas.

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