Apple has successfully convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to uphold a patent tribunal’s ruling, jeopardizing a $502 million verdict for patent licensing company, VirnetX. The ruling comes after a long legal battle between the two companies over privacy-software technology.
The tribunal invalidated the two patents VirnetX had accused Apple of infringing, affirming a decision from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Representatives for both companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The companies have been in a 13-year-long court battle that has included several trials and appeals. An East Texas jury awarded VirnetX $502 million in 2020 after finding that Apple infringed virtual private network (VPN) patents at issue in the ruling.
Apple has appealed the verdict separately, and the Federal Circuit is yet to rule in that case. The court heard combined arguments in both cases in September, and both sides agreed that upholding the decision to cancel the patents would also likely nullify the jury award.
At the September hearing, VirnetX attorney Jeff Lamken of MoloLamken said, “If the court upholds the [USPTO’s] decision, we have a big problem. I don’t think we have an enforceable judgment.”
On Thursday, the Federal Circuit affirmed decisions by the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board that the patents were invalid due to earlier publications describing the same inventions.
VirnetX had separately won a $302 million verdict against Apple in an East Texas court in 2016, which was later increased to $440 million, over allegations that the tech giant used its internet-security technology in features like FaceTime video calls.
Apple has been facing several legal battles over patent infringements with various companies, and it is essential to note the need for companies to protect their intellectual property rights. Apple’s victory in this legal battle has significant implications for patent licensing and invalidation.