Apple faces a retrial in a patent case that, at one time, had threatened the company with a legal bill of $625m.
The case is between Apple and a Texas-based company called VirnetX, and relates to technology used in Apple’s FaceTime service found in several versions of iOS and OS X, and versions of iMessage and the firm's VPN on Demand service.
The two firms have been at loggerheads for some time, and initial damages of $368m were awarded to VirnetX in 2012. This was then almost doubled to $625.6m earlier this year after two separate cases were brought into one.
However, in the latest twist a federal judge has ruled that this is invalid, as it was unfair to Apple to have the two patent cases combined and caused confusion among the jurors involved in the case.
"The repeated references to the prior jury verdict in the consolidated case resulted in an unfair trial," wrote US district judge Robert Schroeder in Tyler, Texas, as reported by Reuters.
The judge ordered that the two cases be split and heard again. Jury selection for the first is set for 26 September, while the second will be held after the first has been finalised.
Kendall Larsen, VirnetX CEO and president, explained that the firm is disappointed by the decision and is deciding on its next course of action.
“We are reviewing all our options and will follow the court’s direction as we start preparing for these retrials. We are confident that we have the resources required for these retrials. We trust that the jury will again make the right decision in the retrials,” he said.
Apple had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication when contacted by V3.
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