Apple just lost a $503m battle against VirnetX Holding Corp. for patent infringement, according to Bloomberg.
But, before you go trumpeting praise about the little guy finally getting a win over a sue-happy IP powerhouse, save your toots — this isn’t a case of David vs. Goliath… it’s more of a troll vs a giant.
Patent trolls: the bane of inventors’ existence
VirnetX is a “patent troll,” or a company that collects patents for the sole purpose of licensing them to companies and individuals who need them to develop their technology — and litigating anyone who infringes upon them.
The Nevada-based company made just $1m in revenue last year from licensing its tech. But, they made a boatload more off lawsuits.
Back in 2010, Microsoft paid the company $200m to end it’s ongoing lawsuit with the company, and this ruling against Apple is part of an 8-year saga of rulings against Apple.
East Texas: a bridge for patent trolls to live under
Until the Supreme Court ruled against this practice last May, trolls have traditionally filed suits in East Texas, where patent lawsuits swung in their favor, and VirnetX’s lawsuit (filed in East Texas before the ruling), was lucky to be grandfathered in.
But, as Bloomberg points out, it may not be enough to secure VirnetX’s victory: The Federal Circuit (which handles patent appeals) gets the final word on whether the patents in question are valid.
And, if their track record with the US Patent and Trademark Office is any indication, it’s not looking great…