Intellectual property issues may be a major concern for many New Jersey businesses, and these concerns are shared by some of the largest firms in the tech industry. Apple has been involved in one such long-running dispute with a smaller firm, VirnetX Holding Corp., over several patents. The smaller company is seeing over $1 billion in damages for alleged patent infringement. Some smaller companies have seen greater value in pursuing patent disputes with larger firms rather than marketing products of their own, and some have been labeled “patent trolls” as a result.
The smaller company says that Apple must pay it royalties for some of its secure communications systems used in FaceTime and other programs on the iPhone and iPad. It alleges that Apple’s software infringes its patents, and VirnetX won a $439 million judgment in one infringement case. However, Apple separately challenged the company’s patents, which were subsequently invalidated. The computer manufacturer claimed that it should not have to pay a large judgment for infringing patents that had later been invalidated. However, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Apple’s appeal on this ground, sending the case back to lower courts and leaving the existing judgment intact.
Apple has become the largest user of the Patent and Trademark Office’s appeals process that allows firms to challenge others’ patents, especially because the review board has shown a tendency to rule in favor of challenging companies. In addition to this verdict, Apple is also locked in another $503 million dispute with VirnetX over later models of Apple products, also accused of infringing the same patents.
Intellectual property rights may be some of the most important elements of a business, especially those in the tech or creative industries. An intellectual property lawyer may help a company to take action against infringers or defend itself against spurious claims.