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Apple ordered to pay 'patent troll' VirnetX US$502.6mln

VirnetX was up 39% in pre-market trading on the small-cap equity market

An Apple iPhone
The jury's verdict in favor of VirnetX could be a short-lived victory

A federal jury in Texas ordered Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to pay US$502.6mln to VirnetX Holding Corp. (NYSEAMERICAN:VHC) for infringing on patents for secure communications after a protracted legal battle that dragged on for eight years, Bloomberg reports.

VirnetX was up 39% to US$5.70 in pre-market trading on Wednesday in the NYSE American small-cap equity market.

Apple’s stock was little changed on the news, given that the $502.6mln award is itsy-bitsy compared to the iPhone maker’s staggering US$20bn profit in the first quarter.

VirnetX claimed that Apple’s FaceTime, VPN on Demand and iMessage features, breach four patents related to secure communications. Apple denies the claims.

A history of patent litigation

There have been multiple trials and the dispute has bounced between the district court, patent office and Federal Circuit since 2010.

"The evidence was clear," Kendall Larsen, CEO of VirnetX told Bloomberg after the verdict was announced. “Tell the truth and you don’t have to worry about anything."

But VirnetX could ultimately end up seeing little to none of the money.

“For VirnetX, the jury verdict in its favor could be a short-lived victory. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has said the patents are invalid, in cases that are currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington,” according to the Bloomberg article.

As Ars Technica detailed last yearVirnetX is the kind of company often referred to as a patent troll. It said it offers some products including a “secure mail and messaging system called the Gabriel Collaboration Suite,” though SEC filings show they derive the entirety of their revenue from judgments in patent lawsuits.

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