US Supreme Court rejects VirnetX’s appeal in $502.8 million patent case against Apple

The US Supreme Court declined VirnetX’s appeal to reinstate a $502.8 million verdict against Apple, marking the end of a decade-long legal battle over invalidated internet-security patents.

 Architecture, Building, Logo, Office Building, Symbol

The US Supreme Court rejected VirnetX’s attempt to revive a $502.8 million jury verdict against Apple. VirnetX, a patent-licensing company, challenged the US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) decisions to invalidate its patents, a move the Supreme Court declined to reconsider. The dispute between Apple and VirnetX spanned over a decade, involving multiple trials and appeals.

The jury initially awarded VirnetX $502.8 million in 2020, determining that Apple’s iPhones and iPads had infringed on patents related to virtual private networks. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s inter-part review process, used by tech companies to challenge patent validity, rejected Apple’s petitions, leading to the invalidation of VirnetX’s patents. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld these decisions in 2023, prompting VirnetX’s unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court.

VirnetX argued that sustaining these rulings would encourage the “harassment” of patent owners. The company highlighted instances of alleged misconduct in patent challenges. However, Apple, Mangrove Partners, and the USPTO argued that VirnetX’s claims lacked support in federal law.

Why does it matter?

The Supreme Court’s decision marks a significant development as it ends this 14-year legal battle, and while Apple won most of the cases, VirnetX had previously won a $440 million verdict against Apple in 2016 related to Facetime and iMessage. Therefore, the US Supreme Court’s decision sets a precedent regarding patent technologies for Apple and possibly all Big Tech companies.