While the nearly decade-old smartphone patent wars between the industry’s heavyweights have largely drawn to an end, making way less headlines than they used to in any case, a few tech giants still need to face frequent copyright infringement allegations from much smaller companies with only one purpose.
Apple is perhaps the easiest target of all, and the likeliest to settle drawn-out legal battles out of court, although no such understanding has been reached with either Acacia Research or VirnetX Holding Corp.
The latter so-called patent “troll” (or hoarder, to put it kindly) reportedly scored a 2014 Microsoft settlement of $23 million over Skype technology disputes, going back and forth with Apple in federal court since 2010.
Several temporary VirnetX victories have been overturned in recent years, which probably gives Cupertino plenty of solace on the heels of yet another unfavorable verdict this past Friday. A notoriously patent squatter-friendly Texas tribunal ruled the world’s largest information technology company owes its accuser more than $302 million in intellectual damages for using proprietary internet security features unsanctioned in commercial products including FaceTime.
But both Apple and VirnetX will seek final justice elsewhere, as the former tries to level the field once again, while the infringed party dreams of an even bigger payout if it can prove the violation was made with premeditation. The ball is now in the Washington Appeals court.