Apple has been ordered to pay $625m to VirnetX after being found guilty of infringing patents held by the internet security firm.
A unanimous decision in a trial held at the East Texas Federal District Court found that Apple infringed VirnetX’s intellectual property relating to secure communications protocols.
The decision follows a court battle in 2012 in which VirnetX was awarded $368m in damages from Apple.
Apple did overturn the fee on appeal, but at a retrial the sum rose by another $200m and continued to rise given Apple’s wilful infringement of the patents, the court ruled.
Apple infringed VirnetX’s patents with the FaceTime service found in several versions of iOS and OS X 10.8, and versions of iMessage and the firm's VPN on Demand service.
Apple argued that VirnetX had overvalued its intellectual property and that Apple had invented its own technology rather than breach VirnetX’s patents.
Given how VirnetX has struggled to turn its products into successful commercial ventures, the result of the case and the hefty sum it will receive is a significant boon to the company.
VirnetX has already made a fair bit of money by suing other technology companies, such as Microsoft, which reached an out-of-court settlement resulting in VirnetX getting $200m in 2010 and $23m in 2014 after a patent battle about technology in Skype.
Apple losing the case is damaging to its reputation in the technology industry, but the sum it must pay will barely make a dent in the revenue drawn from iPhone and iPad sales.
Patent disputes are a regular occurrence in the technology world. Companies like IBM hold thousands of patents for up and coming technologies, and protecting and monetising patents is a way for companies to make money without actually bringing a service or product to the market.
Many of the patent wars result in out-of-court agreements to avoid drawn out battles, as seen in a deal made between Apple and Ericsson.
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