A East Texas court in February ordered Apple to pay $625 million in damages to VirnetX following a ruling that the Cupertino firm’s iMessage and FaceTime services infringed a patent help by VirnetX. Now, a federal judge has ruled the two separate cases tied to the damages should be retried.
In a decision late Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder in Tyler, Texas said it was unfair to Apple that two VirnetX lawsuits had been combined into a single trial.
Judge Schroeder said jurors may have been confused by more than 50 references to the earlier case, and deferred improperly to the previous jury’s findings when it found for the plaintiff.
“The repeated references to the prior jury verdict in the consolidated case resulted in an unfair trial,” Schroeder wrote.
VirnetX, a Nevada-based firm that could be best described as a “patent troll,” had asked the court to completely ban FaceTime and iMessage, saying Apple’s apps had done irreparable damage to the firm, which licenses patents to tech firms. At that time, VirnetX also requested another $190 million on top of the previous amount.
In a classic case of overreach, the patent firm finds itself being forced to once more face the iPhone maker in court, in a situation which could result in a completely different verdict(s). The first of two new trials will kickoff on September 26.