back to article Apple loses FaceTime patent appeal again. And again. And again. And again. And again... yes, it's the fifth time

Apple has lost its fifth legal appeal against the holder of network protocol patents, VirnetX, inching the case forward one judgment at a time. This time a US federal court agreed [PDF] with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that two patents owned by VirnetX were in fact valid. It has previously – and repeatedly – been …

  1. Paratrooping Parrot


    How many times has Apple been suing others for rounded corners and other dubious patents?

    1. s2bu

      Re: Hypocritical?

      Those are DESIGN patents, a completely different animal.

      1. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Hypocritical?

        They're patents and they're dubious, so it doesn't make any difference whether it's a design patent or some other kind of phony-baloney patent that should never have been awarded, and probably shouldn't even exist.

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: Hypocritical?

          My extremely cursory - and legally naive - reading of the patents concerned suggest that they're to do with establishing a secure connection (such as a VPN or encrypted link) via a third party (like Apple), rather than exchanging keys directly between the endpoints.

          If true, it would be of the same order as rounded corners.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Hypocritical?

          "They're patents"

          In the US they're called patents. In the UK they'd be called registered designs. I'm not sure how other countries would treat them. They're not the same as ordinary patents.

          Nevertheless this is a case where you'd like all three sides to lose - Apple, the trolls and the lawyers.

          1. Kane Silver badge

            Re: Hypocritical?

            "Nevertheless this is a case where you'd like all three sides to lose - Apple, the trolls and the lawyers."

            Lawyers never lose.

            1. theblackhand

              Re: Hypocritical?

              "Lawyers never lose."

              You obviously haven't heard of my targeted adventure tourism business "High Adrenaline Shark Diving Tours 4 Lawyers"

              It involves sharks, lawyers and a large pool. So far, the sharks have an almost perfect record.

              This has also disproved the myth that sharks will eat anything...

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Hypocritical?

      So if you are sued for patent infringement and fight it in court, you should give up your right to sue others for patent infringement? That's a curious belief.

      If you were in a car accident and the other driver sued you and you fought it in court believing you weren't at fault, and then later were in a separate accident and believed the other driver was at fault, would you think it is hypocritical to sue him?

    3. Time Waster

      Re: Hypocritical?

      There is one very big difference between the two cases (clearly both patents are absurd). Apple did actually make a phone with rounded corners so were presumably (at least in their minds) simply attempting to prevent others from copying their design. VirnetX on the other hand...

      1. The IT Ghost

        Re: Hypocritical?

        I hate patent trolls. Buy someone's ideas for peanuts then sit on them hoping someone will infringe so you get a payday. Patents expire after a certain number of years (haven't bothered to look up how many), when a product or service is actively using the process or product in the patent. The solution, in my mind, is to expire the patent after say, a tenth of that time when there is no product or service using the patented idea or concept on the market, and re-establishing an expired patent is not allowed for a select time period. A few real inventors may be harmed by this as they might have trouble legitimately getting funding or other backing for getting their product to market, but patent trolls would rapidly lose their "inventory".

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: Hypocritical?

          It does not work. There are problems with just about any "solution". The above is the long term research all gets dropped because it's impossible to protect.

          Protecting the information means not everyone can benefit, sharing it means individuals cannot profit. See space and time for other "continuums". ;)

        2. TVU

          Re: Hypocritical?

          Given the choice in a legal battle between [Any Company] and overt patent trolls, I would always want to see the former win. In this instance, Apple are fortunately wealthy enough to keep this case going.

        3. I.Geller Bronze badge

          Re: Hypocritical?

          What about an inventor?

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hypocritical?

          A lot of countries have a requirement that you must show you are exploiting the invention yourself within 3 years, or after that other parties are entitled to obtain a licence on fair and reasonable terms.

        5. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Hypocritical?

          A few real inventors may be harmed by this as they might have trouble legitimately getting funding or other backing for getting their product to market, but patent trolls would rapidly lose their "inventory".

          I would expect even there, if you could show proof that you were actively seeking funding and/or licensees, that could count as actively promoting the patent.

    4. David Shaw

      Re: Hypocritical?

      VirnetX is CIA

      ancient internet history involving SAIC and the US intelligence community "netEraser" comms program

      look it up, it's all openly discussed, probably eighteen years ago, from memory

  2. Oh Homer

    As much as I love bashing Apple...

    I'm too disgusted with the criminal waste perpetrated by intellectual monopoly and the legal industry, to care much about the individual prawns in this filthy game.

    1. sbt

      Re: As much as I love bashing Apple...

      Well, it's an interesting chess set you've got there, for sure.

      1. Oh Homer

        Re: As much as I love bashing Apple...

        My auto-correct has a very dry sense of humour.

        1. Forum McForumface

          Re: As much as I love bashing Apple...

          I think there’s something fishy about it.

          1. Blane Bramble

            Re: As much as I love bashing Apple...

            There is a time and plaice for that sort of humour

            1. I.Geller Bronze badge

              Re: As much as I love bashing Apple...

              Now and here?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: As much as I love bashing Apple...

                No need to carp on about it, now is there?

  3. Ian Emery Silver badge


    The real winners are the lawyers (as usual).

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Surely

      Somebody i worked with (he was new) once made an untrue statement about me in front of witnesses and myself. I suggested that if he didn't retract it immediately and apologise I'd consult my lawyers then sue him. He said he didn't believe I had the money to talk to lawyers so no he wouldn't apologise. I mentioned that I had a barrister and a partner in an international law firm in my family. That wiped the smug smile off his face and he then apologised. He didn't stay with the firm long after that.

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: Surely

        Ha ha. Years back i volunteered to help with the PTA on a function. Paired with a teacher who boasted, "we've done well with our offspring, one's a Doctor, one's a Lawyer."

        Straight faced, i said "Well, one out of two ain't so bad.". Didn't get sued either.

        Seriosuly, whenever anyone has said anything false about me i usually just laugh. More so if i started the rumour in the first place.

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: Surely

          I objected to being called a "dishonest crook". He alleged that I'd stolen his personal property (a scooter) from under his desk and lied about doing so. It turned out the boss had removed it to the proper place which was behind reception in the cloakroom. Even after the facts had emerged he refused to say sorry or offer any apology.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Surely

            It is sad if you only have redress of law if you are personally connected to lawyers prepared to support your case for family rates, or are loaded.

            But if you are sure of your case then you might well be able to get the other party to pay costs.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Surely

            Yep, you are indeed just as big an arse as he was, seriously, threatening lawyers over a workplace spat? What the fuck is wrong with you and all the other litigious wankers around these days. Down vote away, or better yet why not sue me?

            1. JimboSmith Silver badge

              Re: Surely

              Yeah well if you had all the facts you'd maybe you'd think differently. This wasn't the first incident where he'd made false accusations far from it. He was consistently late and often left early. In one case he was going to the dentist and he may well have met his dentist but must have done so in the pub he was seen entering directly after leaving work. He'd accused people of stealing his lunch out of the fridge, other stuff from his desk etc. None of those people he falsely accused had access to free legal advice and I was encouraged to give him both barrels so to speak. The final straw came very shortly after accusing me just before the end of his probation. He was on the sales team and had claimed for a couple of weeks prior that people were stealing his customers. He went as far as complaining to the department manager about it. This was thoroughly investigated because commission was at stake. It became obvious when looked into that none of these were his customers. Some of them were longstanding customers who had been with the firm many years. They had relationships with senior members of the sales team and mostly hadn't even heard of this bloke. He did not pass his probation.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surely

        You sound like a wonderful individual. What’s wrong with just saying ”stop talking shite you fuckwit?”

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: Surely

          All he had to do was just apologise to me, not the hardest thing to do you'd think. No he couldn't do that just as he hadn't to anyone else he'd accused. I'm told if you don't defend yourself against defamatory comments then it is far harder to do so in the future. The issue resolved itself anyway when he was told he wasn't passing his probation and wouldn't be needed any more.

  4. Lorribot

    Apple are......

    Apple patented the shape of the iPad and and sued Samsung because of it they are quibbling about someone else patent?

    They just suck and this kind of stuff does not really endear them to people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple are......

      You got some of the details right and close enough is good enough in US patent lawsuits...

  5. Reg Reader 1

    Justice is for the wealthy. It is my belief that some things are too important to only be for one group such as healthcare, the legal system, reasonable housing, and healthy food.

  6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    How does this go on so long?

    I thought when you appealed a judgement, you appealed to a higher court. How many levels of judiciary is there in the USA that they can keep repeatedly appealing lower judgments?

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: How does this go on so long?

      Does the US not have such a concept as Vexatious Litigant?

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: How does this go on so long?

        Given the amount of money involved, it is not vexatious but shows up the weakness of the US legal system (Apple would have a much harder time in the UK because of our more integrated legal system and fewer lawyers with huge college debts chasing work.)

        Vexatious litigation is e.g. when every year some idiot sues his neighbour for letting leaves fall in his garden.

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: How does this go on so long?

        Does the US not have such a concept as Vexatious Litigant?

        Apple doesn't dare challenge them as 'patent trolls' because it only establishes a precent for Apple to be challenged as patent trolls themselves.

  7. FlamingDeath Bronze badge

    Who knew..

    Apple are basically thieving gypsies

    1. aks Bronze badge

      Re: Who knew..

      Please withdraw the reference to gypsies.

      1. don't you hate it when you lose your account

        Re: Who knew..

        If he doesn't I'll park my horse on his lawn

    2. don't you hate it when you lose your account

      Re: Who knew..

      Steve jobs

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who knew..

      Please also withdraw the reference to thieves. ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who knew..

        Apple are basically █████████ █████████

  8. JLV Silver badge

    Remind us again...

    Court considerations aside is Virtnex indeed a good faith inventor/engineering firm, with a solid patent for something they actually invented and worked on that’s not being remunerated by a company that can definitely afford to? Or even a solid patent that they purchased?

    Or is this sitting in troll land?

    At the end of the day, I’d probably cheer for North Korea’s Missile Design Bureau if they were being sued by a patent patent troll.

    Icon cuz I suspect know the answer. But it is a serious question because it modifies the article’s meaning and reading significantly.

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. theblackhand

      Re: Remind us again...

      I believe these are the related patents:

      Agile network protocol for secure communications with assured system availability

      Agile network protocol for secure communications using secure domain names

      Establishment of a secure communication link based on a domain name service (DNS) request

      Agile network protocol for secure communications using secure domain names

      I'm not convinced there is anything unique in these based on the patents being filed in 1998. All of the concepts appear to have pre-existing examples in either SSL, VPN's or load balancing. While all three were relatively new at the time, all had established standards or examples.

  9. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  10. ecofeco Silver badge


    Apple needs thier ass handed to them for this.

  11. Twilight

    So much wrong with VirnetX

    First, they are clearly patent trolls. That *SHOULD* mean they lose any case they bring (but, of course, it doesn't)...

    Then there's the matter of their patents that were upheld. I don't actually see *ANYTHING* novel in one of them. The other is novel only in that it combines five blindingly obvious things into one "system". I fail to understand why these patents were (re)found to be valid. Then again, I am frequently shocked by what patents are actually upheld - sometimes, it seems the patent reviews are done by a group of monkeys and then the courts rely on the monkeys to determine if they should have been approved in the first place.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maximum court time

    Patent cases should have a maximum amount of time elapsed before decision is made.

    The large firms can survive these cases just on stringing it out. That needs to stop. If they can't make a case in a week or two...

  13. Tempest

    Apple Is Guilty Of Plagiarism From The Get-Go

    Anyone old enough to remember the print adverts in technical magazines from decades ago might remember there were three 'Apples' in the States.

    Apple purloined it's logo from a competitor, as well as the name. Just as with the Xerox Park mouse and other things stolen by Jobs.

  14. Stevie Silver badge


    Vimex should just license the tech to El Cheapo TimeFace, a tablet-based conferencing app that works out half the price of iPad and let history repeat itself.

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