Apple has convinced a U.S. appeals court to uphold a patent tribunal’s ruling that could imperil an US$502 million verdict for VirnetX in the companies’ long-running fight over privacy-software technology, reports Reuters.
The article says the tech giant convinced the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to invalidate two patents by upholding a decision from the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The appeals court could overturn the $502 million fine that Apple was ordered to pay in 2020. The company separately appealed that verdict, but the Federal Circuit still has to rule in that case, notes Reuters.
This is part of a legal battle that’s been raging for close to eight years. In January 2014, VirnetX, considered by many (including me) to be a “patent troll,” filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas seeking to supplement its infringement contentions against Apple, the defendant in a patent infringement lawsuit. The tech giant was accused of violating four patents.
In April 2018, a jury found that Apple infringed all four and ordered the company to pay more than $500 million in damages, which was later raised to $600 million with fees and interest. But the damages award was thrown out by the Federal Circuit, which ruled in November 2021 that Apple had only infringed two of the four patents.
By the way, a patent troll is an individual or an organization that purchases and holds patents for unscrupulous purposes such as stifling competition or launching patent infringement suits. In legal terms, a patent troll is a type of non-practicing entity: someone who holds a patent but is not involved in the design or manufacture of any product or process associated with that patent.