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Apple Inc. (AAPL) Facetime and iMessage Get Death Threat Via Patent Troll VirnetX

Apple Inc (AAPL) iPhone 7 and Air

Apple Inc. hasn’t heard the last from VirnetX. Even after its $626m FaceTime and iMessage patent suit win in February, the patent troll still wants more from the tech giant. VirnetX is now asking a federal judge to force Apple to turn off the features for good.  The gadget maker, on the other hand, wants a retrial.

Apple Inc (AAPL) Macbook air and iPhone

Apple wants a retrial

On Wednesday, VirnetX – a holding company with a small office in Nevada – also asked the judge presiding over the case to hike the damages the East Texas jury awarded them in February by $190m or more.

Apple Inc. wants a retrial, and claims the lawyers of VirnetX misrepresented evidence to the jury, and that the evidence presented at the trial did not support infringement. Also, as per Law360, which was present at the hearing on Wednesday, Apple said it should not have to pay royalties.

As per Law360, the iPhone maker demonstrated that VirnetX is trying to secure an overly broad injunction in order to extract a huge licensing fee. Apple’s documents connected to the issue are under seal. The post-trial demands of VirnetX are in the public record.

VirnetX – a patent troll

The patents in question date from 1998, and describe a way to build secure communications through internet domain names. VirnetX bought the patent from another company in 2006. By definition, a “patent troll” looks for patents that can be bought for far less than their potential value. In this case, the patents were likely purchased with the hope that the firm could bring a suit against Apple and win.

In February, a jury ruling favored VirnetX in respect to the four patents at issue. The Apple products include the iMessage platform, FaceTime and VPN on Demand, and as per a court filing, VirnetX wants to block those services because of the low sales and the reputational harm caused by the “Apple’s distribution of the infringing features.”

VirnetX argued that an injunction blocking the Apple’s popular video chatting and messaging features may seem like a harsh solution, but it is necessary because of the irreparable harm caused by Apple’s infringement.

For years, the Patent troll has been saying that it has plans to market products, but for now its income comes from licensing patents. As per its recent yearly financial statement, VirnetX leases a small office in Zephyr Cove, Nevada for roughly $5,000 a month, and has about a dozen employees.

Added pressure on Apple

Apple Inc. would be forced to disable the features if the judge agrees to grant such an injunction. Or, the tech giant would be compelled to find a last-minute workaround to avoid the technology described in the patents that belong to VirnetX.

As per the minutes of the hearing, Robert Schroeder III – the US District Judge – did not rule on the post-trial dispute Wednesday, but said to get orders out as fast as possible. In the case of patent infringement, courts used to grant injunctions, but since a landmark 2006 Supreme Court case, such orders are less common. The possibility of a FaceTime shutdown adds to the pressure on the tech giant, which is already facing $625m in damages.

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Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both marketing and Finance side. He has work as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, playing PC games and cricket.