Patent case could make Apple close down iMessaging and Facetime

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It has been revealed that patent-licensing firm, VirnetX is pushing for Apple to close down its Facetime and iMessaging services after claiming the tech giant had caused them “irreparable harm” as a result of their actions.

Texas based VirnetX was awarded US$625 in February when a jury found that Apple had violated four of its patents.

Apple contested this but now the patent-licensing firm is seeking further damages and wants the Cupertino based company to be prevented from using its technology to power their video and text chat apps.

Apple wants the court to overturn the verdict on the grounds that the Patent and Trademark Office in the United States has invalidated VirnetX’s claim to the inventions.

The action by the USPTO is being contested in a completely separate case that will be heard before the Supreme Court.

Apple said that forcing customers to stop using iMessaging and Facetime would be harmful to users. VirnetX claimed that the actions were needed to protect their own Gabriel Collaboration Suite, an app that enables cross platform messaging and conference calls.

According to the BBC, critics have labelled VirnetX as being nothing more than a “patent troll” but the term is usually reserved for companies that deliberately hold on to patents or inventions but never actually use them in their own products.

This can’t really be said about VirnetX as despite its Gabriel app not being that well known, it is available to download from the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

“Apple is very happy to use technology owned by other parties and just wait to be sued once they have pocketed the profits,” one of VirnetX’s UK-based shareholders – who asked not to be named – told the BBC.

Apple has declined to comment.

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