Judge rules against Apple in FaceTime lawsuit

applevirnetxA Texas judge has upheld a legal decision against Apple over whether the company’s FaceTime application infringes on another company’s existing patents. The result gave the Cupertino giant less than two months to make good on the millions of dollars it owes in damages.

Judge Leonard Davis of the Eastern District of Texas released his ruling on Tuesday, denying Apple’s two requests for a new trial to overturn the November 2012 jury verdict in favor of patent holding company VirnetX or, at the very least, reduce the amount of damages owed from the initial $368.2 million amount. Instead, Davis ordered the two companies to come to an agreement regarding a licensing deal that would allow Apple to continue using the problematic patents in exchange for proper renumeration.

VirnetX has initially launched legal action against Apple back in 2010, alleging that Apple’s FaceTime – the app that allows real-time video conferencing between Apple devices – infringes on four separate patents owned by the small company. According to a Bloomberg report on the original jury trial, the company’s patents “cover the use of a domain-name service to set up virtual private networks, through which a website owner can interact with customers in a secure way or an employee can work at home and get access to a company’s electronic files.”

Apple isn’t the only company that has been sued by VirnetX over infringements of these patents; the company has already settled a suit with Microsoft in 2010, and is headed towards a court appearance with Cisco next month.

The $368.2 million verdict awarded to VirnetX is lower than the $708 million that the company was initially looking for. In another setback to their plans, Judge Davis also refused the company’s request for an injunction against Apple continuing to offer FaceTime until the two companies have reached a licensing agreement. There is an additional incentive for Apple to find such an agreement quickly – Judge Davis ordered the company to pay VirnetX $330,211 per day until the agreement has been reached. Davis also set a deadline for the agreement: Both parties have 45 days in which to sort everything out, or else the Court will make an additional ruling that may, it’s believed, grant the injunction request.

As you might expect, Apple has yet to release any comment on the matter – it’s possible that the company is merely perfecting the right amount of passive aggression to instill into the inevitable public “apology” for the whole matter – but VirnetX’s CEO Kendall Larsen has already issued a statement on the ruling. “We are extremely pleased with the Court’s Order in our suit against Apple,” Larsen said. “We look forward to negotiating a license with Apple that includes an ongoing royalty agreement.”


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