back to article Microsoft patent victor targets Apple, Cisco...

After being awarded $200m in a patent-infringement case that it brought against Microsoft, VirnetX has now gone after Apple, Cisco Systems, and others. In a brief statement announcing the lawsuit, VirnetX accused Apple, Cisco, NEC, and the self-described "leading global enterprise communications provider" Aastra of violating …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    "We expect to derive the majority of our revenue from license fees and royalties associated with these patents"

    In other words, being a patent troll as payed off, so we intend to keep doing it. Anyone surprised?

    Beer, cause you can't patent beer

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge


      In 1873 Louis Pasteur received a patent on isolated yeast, a living organism.

      Making beer using non-isolated yeast is rather unreliable.

      Mine's the one with the Pasteur pipette in the pocket.

  2. Number6


    I wonder who owns VirnetX? I wonder what the shares are worth and whether the defendants might find it cheaper to just buy the company between them, declare the patents to be in the public domain and close the company down.

    1. Lou Gosselin

      Re: Troll-zapping

      That's an interesting point, but considering P/E ratios are ridiculously estimated to be anywhere between 25-50, verminx shareholders would probably expect a bid amounting to many times what today's lawsuits are worth.

      Secondly, I don't expect anyone to spend good cash on a company just to throw away the assets.

      Where's my "no software patents" icon?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Anti-troll plug

      There's another way: Challenge the patent, have it re-examined and declared void. For that you need evidence of prior art.

      If you, fellow commentard, can find even the tiniest shred of prior art that turns out to be useful for that, you can sign up with article one partners; they sell "legal packages" to corporations being sued by trolls, like cisco et al here, to help them fend off patent claims. And yes, they promise you a piece of the action if you bring the right tidbits to the table.

      Disclosure: No connection except some communication with the founder+CEO a while back.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    No surprise at all

    "It now serves as the foundation of our planned licensing and service offerings."

    Makes it sounds like they're providing a valuable service rather than just being the industry blood suckers that they are.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    So, using their logic...

    Mercedes-Benz could sue EVERYBODY who used a steering wheel? Or say Ford were to sue everybody who based their style of manufacturing off of the Ford efficiency model?

    It's pricks like this little company that drive the costs up for everbody else.


    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      You forget the time limit.

      You can only enforce patents for so long. In any event, your idea of Mercedes-Benz patenting the steering wheel would've probably run afoul of prior art: the ship's wheel. As for Ford's efficiency model, if such a concept had been patented around the time of the Model T, it would probably only be enforceable until around the time of the Great Depression.

  5. Ted Treen
    Thumb Down

    Just a suggestion

    Texas for patent trolls, London for libel tourists, the whole legal system is bananas. There ought to be a law against it.

  6. Jason DePriest

    here is an idea

    Every time a patent changes owners, the lifetime of it's validity is reduced. That way, every step away from the original innovator costs something and it would take more wrangling for companies to amass huge portfolios.

    1. Wallyb132


      Most of the patents that virnetx is waving around and smacking people with are home grown patents only a few are hired guns, however the company doesnt seem to do anything useful except sue people.

      This company is worse than the whale shit that are the usual patent trolls. typical patent trolls buy patents for the purpose of playing the patent lottery, a vile business practice it is, but one we've come to accept by order of the US district court for the eastern district of texas. This company however develops ideas in house and applies for patents solely for the purpose of playing the federal lottery in texas, they have no business model other than developing patentable ideas in which to sue people with. This practice, to me at least, is most despicable. I view it like the difference between someone decides to make a pile of money by buying and then selling street drugs, and the person who decides the same thing, but instead of buying his supply, he decides to cook it himself...

      Troll because, well, is an explanation really necessary?

  7. John Doe 6

    Epic Fail

    IPsec probably covers all those patents and predates them by 5 years...

    ...and is developed by two US government organizations: NIST and NSA.

  8. stizzleswick

    The interesting thing here... me, anyway, is that at least two of the patents involved should never have been granted because of prior art.

    The "Agile network protocol for secure communications with assured system availability" bit should be covered mostly by patents first applied for my Xerox, from their PARC team; if not that, then the early-90s implementations of AppleTalk should do it. IIRC, IBM's patents involving TCP/IP could also be considered prior art here.

    The "Domain Name Service" patent is ludicrous. Prior art on that one goes back to ARPANET (and yes, I have read up on the filing. Nothing new there that I had not been aware of before virnetx even filed their application for patent).

    And I agree with John Doe 6 that the VPN bit is at least shaky.

    I find fault here not with the attourneys involved (they only try making money by exploiting the legal situation as it is presented to them), but the responsible patent offices for being blind, deaf and (probably also) lazy.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Just a shakedown

      >> patent offices for being blind, deaf and (probably also) lazy

      _WHO_ do you think works in those hallowed offices?

      Yep, warm-blooded civil servants.

      These people are not exactly Einsteins (yes, I know about Einstein's background) and their "business case" does not rest on refusing patents. Actually it seems to rest on providing State Services You Don't Need But That Bring In Taxes And Provide Cushy Jobs in favor of special interest groups (Lawyers and Big Industrial Players) packaged so that the small fry think it's done in their interest. Not unlike war.

  9. gimbal

    Riiiight. When all else fails, sue big money

    ...especially if you don't have enough creative talent and marketing talent to break even in the sales of your own developments (such as the encrypted swizzle stick, and the virtual private toaster...)

  10. Michael Hoffmann

    Why do they settle?

    I don't understand enough US law enough, but I always wonder: Why do the sued companies settle?

    They have money - that's why they're targets - and thus can afford the best lawyers.

    I hear about the "risk of going to a jury trial".

    At worst, they lose the first round in a jury trial among the hicks in East Texas with the corrupt judges. So? Even if they are condemned to pay a bazillion jillion dollars, they go for an appeal almost at once. Once moving up the courts, they move back to civilization, where the games won't work and a jury might not be made up of the family and friends and cousins to the n-th degree of the judge.

    Let that happen a few times and the whole patent troll gamble will fall apart, because these trolls don't work with that big a bankroll. Or do they? Are these sometimes just fronts for competitors? Proxy battles?

    Again, I don't understand the law there enough to "get it".

  11. kevin king


    can't patent beer????

    They beg to differ

    HEINEKEN TECHNICAL SERVICES B.V. (2e Weteringplantsoen 21, ZD Amsterdam, NL-1017, NL)

    Abstract of EP0307051

    The invention relates to a beer having an alcohol content of maximally 3.5% by volume. For obtaining a beer of this type having good flavour properties, the invention is characterized in that the beer is a mixture of beer obtained by conventional fermentation and unfermented wort product reconstituted with water.

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick


      (drinking faster)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      @kevin king

      That description doesn't sound like beer to me...

      Mine's the one with non-patented home brew, the beer drinker's equivalent of Free Software, in the glass.

  12. Uwe Dippel

    @stizzleswick et al

    As an 'ex' (patent officer), I can only take offense. It was rank and file staff that continuously tried to stem the flood of nonsense coming down from the managers, and mostly the politicians; who were (and probably are) fscking keen on software patents. (I spare you the complex chain of arguments, why. Though you can start thinking yourself. But also *you* as a voter have to shoulder your share, since you were one - I guess - to vote those in.)

    1. stizzleswick

      Please notice...

      ...that I put the blame on the offices as a whole, not on individual officers. And I have a long history of voting against the possibility to patent algorithms per se.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean the US will not get LTE/4G?

    Since these patents probably have little meaning outside of the US, perhaps the solution is to simply not roll out LTE/4G in the US, deny this troll its license fees and leave America where it apparently deserves to be in the field of mobile comms ........

    1. James Hughes 1

      I do wonder..

      whether the good 'ole USofA is patenting itself out of business. With so much market now outside the states, you can sell a lot of kit unemcumbered by US patents. Stick to markets in India, China etc, and you can sell a crap load of stuff without all this patent rubbish. The only people to suffer are the consumers in these patent encumbered countries.

  14. FuzzyTheBear

    foundation ?

    "It now serves as the foundation of our planned licensing and service offerings. We expect to derive the majority of our revenue from license fees and royalties associated with these patents."

    Yeah .. why work and earn your dough creating when you can sit back , do nothing and sue everyone for old tech.Time to get copyright /patent limit to 2 years.After that it should be public domain or else we'll never get anywhere.That crap just has to stop.

  15. steward

    The problem isn't the lawyers aren't inventive...

    The problem is that the inventors are bad at lawyering.

    Once upon a time, long, long, ago (before 1/1/84, to be precise) there was an American behemoth called the "Bell System". Through its Bell Telephone Laboratories (BTL) component, it carried on much basic and applied research. Pursuant to the Communications Act of 1934, which exempted the Bell System from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the Bell System had to -give away- all its inventions except to other telephony companies such as GTE. This was paid for by high long-distance rates.

    BTL was chopped up into "AT&T Laboratories", "AT&T Bell Laboratories", and "Bell Communications Research" ("Bellcore".) Over the years, some units of these entities were acquired by SAIC - wherein lies the problem: engineers running these units and SAIC were lousy at enforcing patents. It wasn't in their historical corporate culture.

    Solution: Lawyers buy the patents (probably for more money than SAIC could figure out how to get out of them) and make a profit. Long-distance calls are cheap now... but the basic research still has to be paid for. Didn't anyone ever hear of TANSTAAFL? The piper now needs paying.

    Maybe SAIC will eventually figure out how to enforce patents on their own, as a new generation comes to work there.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    poor sods who thought of the patent ideas

    were probably laid off ages ago with a pittance.

    Wonder what would happen if one of the unemployed co-inventors stood up and said: I read about it somewhere else dudes, your patent is worthless! Bwahahahahaha!

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