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Apple ordered to pay $368.2m over FaceTime patent infringement

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Face-off: Apple loses a patent fight over elements used in its video call app

Apple has lost a lawsuit filed against it over the infringement of patents in its FaceTime video calling software.

Patent licensing firm VirnetX filed a lawsuit at the US District Court in Eastern Texas, which is reportedly “friendly” to patent holders. The judge ruled in favour of VirnetX and has ordered Apple to pay $368.2 million in damages.

According to Bloomberg, the legal tussle stems from four patents covering “the use of a domain-name service to set up virtual private networks.” They were said to be infringed by the Apple iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac computers that use the FaceTime function.

VirnetX claims that Apple "refused to pay fair value" for the patents. Now with this judgement under its belt, VirnetX may seek a court order to prevent Apple from continuing to use the patented technology in FaceTime. However, Apple is expected to appeal against the verdict.

The Ars Technica website says that during the trial Apple “argued that VirnetX’s patents are invalid and that FaceTime uses different technology than what is covered in the patents.”

The $368.2m amount is lower than that originally sought by VirnetX (it wanted $708m) but it has had some success in protecting its patents in the past, having won a $200m settlement from Microsoft in 2010. Ars reports that the company has similar lawsuits pending against Cisco, Avaya and Siemens, which are scheduled to reach trial in March 2013.

Has the seemingly endless succession of patent lawsuits gone too far, or should Apple just pay up? Let us know what you think on the Trusted Reviews Twitter and Facebook feeds or via the comments boxes below.

Bloomberg via Ars Technica

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