Apple suffers setback in new VirnetX patent suit over FaceTime

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 2014
As Apple gears up to defend itself against another lawsuit from patent holding firm VirnetX, the iPhone maker was dealt a blow late last week after the presiding judge issued a series of pre-trial rulings denying Apple's motion to preemptively invalidate some of VirnetX's patent claims and preventing the use of invalidity as a defense against others.

FaceTime


Apple had argued that a number of the claims being used against it were not specific enough to warrant patent protection, and thus should be invalidated under the "indefiniteness" standard. Among the disputed terms were "secure name service," "secure name," and "unsecured name."

U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis rejected Apple's interpretations -- and denied the company's motion to strike the terms as indefinite -- following what is known as a Markman hearing, in which the court examines the meaning of specific key words or phrases in patent documents.

Separately, Davis ruled that Apple may not question the validity of any of the patent claims that were at issue in the last court battle between the two companies, which resulted in a $368 million judgement for VirnetX. Apple is free to use that defense against newly-asserted claims, however.

"We are extremely pleased with the court's rulings and we remain confident in the merits of our complaint against Apple," VirnetX CEO Kendall Larsen said in a release. "We believe the court's Markman Order and motion ruling represents another significant step towards the successful resolution of this litigation."

VirnetX first sued Apple in 2011, alleging that FaceTime violates the former's secure communications patents. Following VirnetX's victory, Apple altered FaceTime's behavior to avoid infringement -- a move that is said to cost the companyas much as $2.4 million per month and has increased customer complaints -- but VirnetX believes that those changes were not enough.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    Does it cost more to work around the patent than to pay royalties for using it? Even if it costs more to license than work around. isn't the customer satisfaction worth it?

    I think Find My Friends also infringes on a similar VirnetX 4G security patent. When FMF was first introduced, it used to track one's friends in real time. Now it gives general locations and doesn't allow updates very often, even when done manually.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    Honestly, my FaceTime has never worked 100% since Apple made these changes. I too think Apple should just pay the royalties, rather than continued customer dissatisfaction.
  • Reply 3 of 38
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,988member

    Why is it Apple can't use software design in patents and everyone else gets too? Samsung and others get to easily design around Apple patents yet Apple can't even challenge the obvious non-specificity of the VirnetX patents? Without being specific VirnetX is getting away with saying words so general it's like patenting the word "tool" making any tool covered under their patents instead a hammer or screwdriver, two totally different types of tools. Apple has had to be extremely specific and comprehensive in their patents while other don't need to be. Add this judge to the list of Apple haters.

  • Reply 4 of 38
    I believe Microsoft already pays VirnetX for a license. Anyone know if Google licenses?
  • Reply 5 of 38
    I believe Microsoft already pays VirnetX for a license. Anyone know if Google licenses?

    [URL] http://virnetx.com/licensing/current-licensees/[/URL]
    from that list, no
  • Reply 6 of 38
    Wouldn't it just be cheaper for Apple to buy the company? Case closed.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,457member

    Or cheaper to ask for a re-examination by the USPTO.

  • Reply 8 of 38
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,032member
    I believe Microsoft already pays VirnetX for a license. Anyone know if Google licenses?

    Isn't the infringing tech Skype and Facetime? Same with the Siemans and Mitel lawsuits, video conferencing/calling. Does Google have an equivalent product? Not sure if the Google-supported WebRTC feature operates the same of not. You can be pretty darn certain that if they do they'll hear from VirnetX too if they haven't already. That they weren't included in the most recent set of lawsuits (7 different defendents) might indicate that either (A) they are not infringing as far as VirnetX is concerned or (B) they're actively negotiating without a lawsuit required or (C) VirnetX is trying to determine what they might be able to get from WebRTC and whether it's worth it.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    VirnetX created secure software that Apple and others are illegally using. They even have it is product form This is not patent trolling. Facetime is the tip of the iceberg and Google/Android are going to also get hit big time.

    Someone on staff do 15 minutes of due diligence then re-write this with some facts, please.

    Signed, Red Delicious
  • Reply 10 of 38

    I know a lot of people think VirnetX is a patent troll, but they really aren't. What they are doing is perfectly legal. They own patents and think Apple infringes, and are going through the courts to get a determination.

     

    Besides, Apple could never (because of their nature) ever fall victim to a patent troll. If VirnetX was a patent troll, they'd be sending demand letters to the users of FaceTime (perhaps small businesses or companies that rely on it for work) trying to get quick settlements (like Lodsys). Or file frivolous lawsuits hoping companies settle because it would be cheaper than paying legal fees.

     

    Apple would never settle in this manner - they'd spend the money on legal fees and challenge the patent in court. This is exactly what patent trolls don't want - to have a court decide the validity of their claims - mainly because they wouldn't stand up in court.

     

    It's highly likely that Apple has infringed patents by some holding companies somewhere. The sheer size of iOS and OS X and the complexity of many of their products makes it almost impossible to not have infringed someones IP. The key difference is if it's done intentionally (like Samsung and Google who regularly incorporate stolen IP) or accidentally (having your engineer think up the same idea as someone else did).

  • Reply 11 of 38
    jgoryeb wrote: »
    Wouldn't it just be cheaper for Apple to buy the company? Case closed.

    Why would VirnetX sell? They have a massively profitable business model with many successfully prosecuted infringement cases.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by icoco3 View Post

     

    Or cheaper to ask for a re-examination by the USPTO.


     

    Not feasible. As with Samsung, just because a patent is being re-examined (and possibly rejected at early stages of this re-examination) does not make it invalid. It takes years for the final outcome, and during that time the patent is considered valid.

  • Reply 13 of 38
    icoco3 wrote: »
    Or cheaper to ask for a re-examination by the USPTO.

    I think at this point that would be a dead end.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    Death to patent trolls.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    Death to patent trolls.

    They aren't patent trolls. If you own patents, you are 100% legally allowed to assert your ownership rights.
  • Reply 16 of 38
    I know a lot of people think VirnetX is a patent troll, but they really aren't. What they are doing is perfectly legal. They own patents and think Apple infringes, and are going through the courts to get a determination.

    Just what do you think a patent troll is? Legality doesn't not make you a patent troll. Buying patents you have no intention of employing in a product, and preventing others from doing so; sitting on it with the only purpose to sue those who infringe is being a patent troll. It is a perversion of the original purpose of patents.

    Capitalism needs to clean up its act, getting rid of those who game the system while doing nothing to add value. Day trading, patent trolling, etc.
  • Reply 17 of 38
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,032member
    Not feasible. As with Samsung, just because a patent is being re-examined (and possibly rejected at early stages of this re-examination) does not make it invalid. It takes years for the final outcome, and during that time the patent is considered valid.

    They've already encountered some USPTO inter-partes re-examinations and passed with flying colors, all claims intact. That's fairly unusual and probably speaks to how solid the claims are. Not sure why Apple is resisting a license so vehemently, tho perhaps $1 a device is too rich for their tastes and they'd prefer a one-time fee?
  • Reply 18 of 38
    They aren't patent trolls. If you own patents, you are 100% legally allowed to assert your ownership rights.

    Patent trolling isn't illegal, just immoral.
  • Reply 19 of 38

    All this talk about patent trolls. Wait, who was it exactly that sued over "round corners?"

  • Reply 20 of 38

    VHC isn't blocking anyone from using it, they're perfectly willing to license to Apple. On the other hand, Apple isn't willing to pay for what they use. Now let's think about this a minute. Which behavior is really not only illegal, but immoral as well?

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