Apple Fined £230m After Losing FaceTime Patent Lawsuit

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By Alistair Charlton | November 7, 2012 11:53 PM EST

Apple has been fined $368 million (£230m) after it lost a patent battle in Texas over its FaceTime app, after online communication company VirnetX accused the iPhone maker of breaching some of its patents.

Nevada-based VirnetX originally asked for $708m in damages from Apple, which denied any infringement and is expected to appeal, and the company has also launched intellectual property cases against Microsoft, Cisco and NEC.

The four patents Apple is ruled to have infringed 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 remotely and get access to a company's network.

VirnetX accused Apple of integrating the four infringed patents in its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad products, as well as its Mac computers, all of which use the FaceTime app to make video calls.

According to the Financial Times, VirnetX owns 45 patents in the US and abroad relating to real-time communications and other security technologies; the company has also filed a complaint against Apple to the US International Trade Commission, accusing the California company of unfair trade practices.

Douf Cawley, a lawyer representing VirnetX, said in his closing arguments: "For years Apple refused to pay fair value for the VirnetX patents. Apple says they don't infringe. But Apple developers testified that they didn't pay any attention to anyone's patents when developing their system."

Apple lawyer Danny Williams told the jury that the iPhone maker does not owe money to VirnetX, adding that the company is "not entitled to money for things they did not invent. The VirnetX technology, if used, is a small part of very large, complex products."

In 2010, Microsoft paid VirnetX $200m to settle a lawsuit and license its patents, while NEC signed a licensing agreement with the company in August; VirnetX's cases against Cisco, Avaya and Siemens over the same patents it accused Apple of infringing will be heard in March next year.

When contacted by IBTimes UK, Apple refused to comment on the ruling.

Apple vs Samsung: Part 2

In other Apple patent-related news, this week Apple asked a court in California to add Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 to its patent infringement case against the South Korean phone and tablet maker. This new lawsuit is not scheduled to go to trial until 2014. 

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