Apple’s patent lawsuits have begun to turn on them. Though the world’s most valuable tech company slapped down Samsung with a $1 billion verdict in a California court back in August, it has since been forced by a U.K. court to publish an embarrassing statement about how Samsung did not infringe upon its patents.
Today, the Financial Times reports that a Texas jury has ordered Apple to pay $368 million to VirnetX. VirnetX is a patent holding firm – otherwise known as a patent troll. The company sued Apple in a district known to be amenable to patent trolls, over 45 patents related to real-time communications and security technologies they say Apple violated with its iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices. According to the Times, Apple is expected to appeal the decision.
VirnetX announced back in September that it has also filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission over “unfair trade practices” relating to the same communications patents in the Texas lawsuit.
Microsoft had its own run-in with VirnetX back in 2010. After VirnetX sued microsoft over violations of its online communication patents, Microsoft decided to settle the matter for $200.
It’s pretty clear that the U.S. patent system is broken, and that the only real winners so far are the lawyers. Though $396 million may be pocket change to Apple, this is yet another sign that tech innovation is being stifled through antiquated patent law.