VirnetX, a patent holding firm, has successfully won a judgement of $368 million against Apple for patents loosely related to FaceTime. The four patents in the case deal with establishing VPNs and domain names — not FaceTime's features in particular — and Apple was found to infringe on all of them. Apple argued that it did not infringe on the patents, and that VirnetX did not establish any evidence of actual damages, since FaceTime is a product with no service fees or revenue. Still, it's not likely that this outcome will mean anything more than a hit to Apple's coffers: VirnetX would have to get an injunction to shut down FaceTime, and successfully argue that the service's operations drive sales of Mac or iOS devices.
The case was brought in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas, which is notorious for its friendliness with patent owners on the attack. Earlier this year in the same court, VirnetX won a $200 million settlement from Microsoft for its use of VPN-related patents in Windows 7, Vista, XP, and other products. Apple won't sit still, though: the company filed a motion questioning whether VirnetX has sufficient evidence to support its case, and also initiated reexamination of each of VirnetX's four patents with the US Patent Office. As usual, it's not over just yet.
Matt Macari contributed to this report.