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VirnetX targets iPad Mini, iPhone 5 in new lawsuit after winning $368M judgment against Apple

Same four patents allegedly infringed, same U.S. judge, only the hardware's changed

The same day it won a $368 million verdict in a patent infringement case against Apple, VirnetX filed a new lawsuit, alleging that the iPad Mini and iPhone 5 violate the same patents, according to court documents.

The newest lawsuit, filed Nov. 6, the day a Texas jury awarded VirnetX $368.2 million in damages, the company claimed that the Apple hardware -- all released since its original complaint -- infringed four of its patents by offering customers FaceTime and iMessage, Apple's video chat application and SMS text-replacement, respectively.

Those technologies were also at the root of the earlier case.

In a press release and in its court complaint, VirnetX targeted the iPad Mini, fourth-generation iPad, iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod Touch and all Macs equipped with OS X 10.8, known as Mountain Lion. All had been released since July 2012, but some, such as the iPad Mini, went on sale just days earlier.

The just-concluded case, which was triggered by an August 2010 complaint, had named then-current hardware, including the iPhone 4 and the first-generation iPad.

The jury in that lawsuit found Apple guilty on all patent infringement claims, and said VirnetX was due $368.2 million. Apple has not filed a motion to appeal, and its public relations staff was not available late Sunday for comment. The company, however, rarely discusses legal matters.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Davis, who oversaw the case, ordered VirnetX and Apple to meet with a mediator by Dec. 14, likely in the hope that the pair will be able to agree on a licensing deal.

Prior to its victory Tuesday, VirnetX was best known for striking a $200 million settlement with Microsoft in May 2010, after it had alleged Windows infringed on its virtual private networking (VPN) patents.

As part of that settlement, Microsoft said it would also license the VirnetX patents.

Technology companies are no strangers to the Tyler, Texas, courtroom of Davis, who handled the 2010 lawsuit by VirnetX against Apple and has also been assigned the newest one.

In 2007, a jury in Davis' courtroom issued a nearly-$300 million verdict against Microsoft over claims that the company illegally used Canadian developer i4i's XML editing technology in its popular Word software, an integral part of Microsoft's Office suite.

Two years later, Davis issued an injunction that barred Microsoft from selling Word. Although Davis' injunction was postponed -- Microsoft threatened that sales chaos would result, and several major computer makers, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell, argued the same -- in January 2010, Microsoft stripped the custom XML tagging technology from Word 2007 to meet Davis' delayed deadline.

VirnetX is again represented by McKool Smith, the Dallas law firm that represented it in the Microsoft patent infringement case and in the suit against Apple that just wrapped up.

Davis has given Apple until Nov. 21 to file any motions for a new trial and will render his final judgment at some point after Dec. 20, when he has set a hearing for all post-trial debate.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Read more about legal in Computerworld's Legal Topic Center.


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