back to article Jury to Apple: You owe patent flinger VirnetX half a BEEELLION buckaroos

Intellectual property hoarder VirnetX has had another win, probably to be short-lived, against Apple in the two companies' everlasting patent spat. A jury in an eastern Texas US district court has decided that the fruity firm infringed four patents held by the alleged patent troll, and awarded the plaintiff damages of US$502.6 …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    A jury in an Eastern Texas

    A jury in an Eastern Texas

    Stopped reading it after that.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: A jury in an Eastern Texas

      Ah, yes, Marshall, Texas

      https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-25/the-texas-town-that-patent-trolls-built-j34rlmjc

      "The Town That Trolls Built"

      Apparently, last year, the Supremes ruled that trolls can't go venue shopping like that any more. I have to wonder why Apple's lawsuit was there...

      1. MrAnonCoward43
        Holmes

        Re: A jury in an Eastern Texas

        At least it's encouraging to dig up some old posts and see how we've advanced as a society - https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2011/03/03/google_microsoft_geotag/

        2011

        "This is getting silly

        How much longer do you think it will be before they realise that the patent system is messed up, the e.d. court of Texas has shown sufficient bias that one wonders if there is any actual justice served there, and that patent trolls serve no useful purpose."

        Oh.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A jury in an Eastern Texas

        East St Louis is a personal favorite of the bogus class action and personal injury instigators. If you can get your case heard there, it's like winning the lottery.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: A jury in an Eastern Texas

        I have to wonder why Apple's lawsuit was there

        Because the lawsuit was started in 2012 - at which point, jury-shooping was allowed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A jury in an Eastern Texas

      The rest might want to read this analysis:

      https://scholar.smu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1146&context=scitech

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: A jury in an Eastern Texas

        That's a thorough smackdown of a popular myth. Science!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A jury in an Eastern Texas

      @Voland's right hand Stopped reading it after that.

      Well reading the article before trolling seems to be purely optional for you anyway.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    About time that

    costs were awarded to the other side in {cough-cough} dubious law suits in the USA when the patents are found to be invalid.

    That might very well stop the East Texas Patent Troll lawsuit factory.

    If they had filed pretty well anywhere else in the USA then I might have given the suit some credance. But East Texas... come on.

    IANAL etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even if costs were awarded to VirnetX

      For their invalidated patents, Apple would have to run up quite a legal bill to offset the half billion dollar award on the patents that were upheld.

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The US patent systems needs nuking from orbit and all patents need to be resubmitted and proper due diligence done before the patent is granted to ensure it is actual novel and innovative and no prior art exists. If you submit a bullshit patent you should should be banned from submitting another for 12 months and given a fine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >If you submit a bullshit patent

      How do you submit a patent? Where to?

  4. x 7

    East Texas anything like Kansas?

    For some reason I keep thinking of the Yellow Brick Road when I see reports of East Texas

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: East Texas anything like Kansas?

      the yellow (gold) bricks in Marshall Texas were paid for by patent trolls

      puns intended

      I think from Kansas you get to Marshall Texas by going South until you smell it, then East until you step in it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good for this case but.... 8 years and it's still going...

    Assuming that the patent HAD been infringed it means large companies like Apple can keep attempts to stop them infringing in the courts until the person who owns the patent goes bankrupt / dies / etc.

    Imagine you create the best thing since sliced bread, patent it, start selling it, then a large company starts selling their own copy. It might seem obvious that they are infringing your patent but with the money and resources they have (often more money now than some countries) they can keep the case in the courts until way beyond your ability to fund an argument.

    That is just broken.

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Re: Good for this case but.... 8 years and it's still going...

      Ask for fewer zeros at the end of your claim against them, and they'll probably just pay. I previously worked for a large supplier of financial information services, and on an internal training session on Intellectual Property issues, they explained:

      * They routinely get patent demands from various people.

      * Usually the demands are on the order of $500.

      * At that level, the company did a minimum of due diligence (that is, pull the cited patent and see if it might be applicable and that it's held by the claimer), and then just paid for a license.

      * It's not worth farking around for $500.

      * Someone claiming $10K would get greater scrutiny but probably get paid anyway.

      * A million dollars would be a little different, though,

      * But it still isn't worth farking around for $500.

    2. SEPAM

      Re: Good for this case but.... 8 years and it's still going...

      Patent attorney here.

      >Apple can keep attempts to stop them infringing in the courts until the person who owns the patent goes bankrupt / dies / etc.

      I see that often. Large opponents tend to try to strangle the patent owner rather than settle.

      A patent is supposed to be the little guy's means to stand up against the big guys but that requires a bit of planning. First off you can buy IPR insurance. One of my clients has survived attacks from a major international corporation clearly infringing my client's rights. With the treble damages rules this corporation is increasingly facing a huge abyss after years and years of massive sales and bad faith.

      Also selling the patent to a patent litigator (including trolls) is also a possibility but also a realistic threat. The infringer would then go from harassing a small player to facing a battle hardened opponent going for the jugular. And this is one of the reasons large companies complain about trolls, since it changes the balance of power.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And yet Apple has a patent on rounded corners

    And won

    1. MrAnonCoward43

      Re: And yet Apple has a patent on rounded corners

      Love it, I assume that's why El-Reg hasn't dared to round any of the corners on the site.

      1. 2Nick3

        Re: And yet Apple has a patent on rounded corners

        "Love it, I assume that's why El-Reg hasn't dared to round any of the corners on the site"

        But then Apple would have to acknowledge El-Reg to accuse them of infringing on the patent. At which point the universe might just implode...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And yet Apple has a patent on rounded corners

      OK, do you know what type of patent this is?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And yet Apple has a patent on rounded corners

      Design patents are different than utility patents, which is what this suit is concerned with. And the rounded corners in question were on the icons, not the phone itself.

      Not that it still wasn't stupid, but the two situations aren't quite comparable other than that the fight over both has gone on for the better part of a decade and still isn't final.

  7. MrAnonCoward43
    Facepalm

    The US is a funny place

    Its rules and laws and systems are designed for lawyers and judges to make an endless obscene amount of money for doing essentially nothing as cases get batted back and forth.

    Can chuck lobbyists and politicians 'on the right side' in a similar bottomless money pit mix too. Lobbying for and against rules that just get tweaked for the corporate brigade constantly over the years.

    I fear the day the ever coming shift of the UK towards its powerful 'ally' especially post Brexit nears completion, we will be US light in a few years I'm sure - so many signs we're close already. Then how long before we drop the Diet tag after that I wouldn't be able to guess but probably not long.

    Perhaps the thing that gets me the most is I could never bring myself to even entertain being part of that corrupt system and most people I know I'm sure are the same - it makes me wonder where this stream of seemingly moral free individuals stem from.

  8. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Algore started this

    Not really, but almost. During the Clinton administration, Al Gore headed up some sort of government efficiency tasks force or the other. One of the things that they did was change the chart of the USPO. Before, it was "Issue all valid patents." After, "Help our customers get patents."

    So the validity of a patent became something to be litigated as a matter of course. Anyone holding a patent needs a team of attorneys to do so. So much easier to just sell the thing off to an NPO. And one small step from NPO to patent troll.

  9. GIRZiM
    Gimp

    The 14½ lb Budgie

    Many years ago, was discovered by Amerigo Vespucci and was named after him, until people got tired of living in a place called 'Vespuccia' and changed its name to 'America'.

    Does anybody know what happened to the paperwork. I know Columbus won it off him in a card game, but who owns the patent on America these days, does anyone know? They really should sue the government or something.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The 14½ lb Budgie

      It wasn't discovered by Amerigo Vespucci - the native Americans living there already knew it existed. They just got fucked up and robbed, as per usual by invading forces.

      The current incumbents in the US still seem to have this 'guns, kill, invade' mentality....

      1. GIRZiM

        Re: The 14½ lb Budgie

        > the native Americans living there already knew it existed

        Indeed, but I was kinda making a point.

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