updated 12:55 am EDT, Tue September 25, 2012
Remaining defendants scheduled for trial in early 2013
Patent troll VirnetX announced that at a pre-trial scheduling conference, jury selection in its trial against Apple will begin on October 29, with a jury trial commencing on October 31. Remaining defendants Cisco, Avaya, and Siemens are scheduled for jury selection on March 4, 2013.
The company, which has sued Apple before, alleged that "at least" current iOS devices and Lion-equipped Macs were violating some claims of a patent for a "Method for Establishing Secure Communication Link Between Computers of Virtual Private Network," or a standard VPN connection. The patent had been granted just the same day, suggesting that the aim of the patent was only to sue others for profit.
Despite the patent having just existed for hours before the lawsuit, VirnetX claimed that Apple owed it triple damages, expecting a finding of willful infringment. While it asked for a ban on Apple's products, it made clear that the primary goal was a "compulsory ongoing licensing fee" that it wanted if a ban wasn't granted. Since the original filing, the new iPhone 5 has been added to the complaint.
"We are extremely pleased with the updated trial schedule," said Kendall Larsen, VirnetX CEO and president. "We believe this schedule allows us to maximize our resources and will greatly benefit our legal strategy." VirnetX has a patent portfolio of 20 US, 26 international, and over 100 pending patents.
Apart from the deliberate surprise, the lawsuit was filed in an Eastern District of Texas court in the Tyler Division, an area often picked for such lawsuits over its tendency to favor the patent holder. VirnetX's case is also being put forward by the law firm McKool Smith, which regularly represents such patent attacks. Microsoft settled with VirnetX for $200 million dollars in 2010 over the same patents.