Apple challenges VirnetX patent case; reneges on iOS VPN changes

Apple challenges VirnetX patent case; reneges on iOS VPN changes

Summary: UPDATED 2: Apple is appealing a $368 million judgment brought by VirnetX in 2010. Apple therefore will not change VPN behavior on already shipped iOS 6.1 powered devices.

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Apple has backtracked on a decision it made to change how iPhones and iPads handle virtual private networking (VPN) access, following the conclusion of a patent lawsuit with VirnetX.

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(Image: ZDNet)

VirnetX won a $368.2 million patent victory, which led to Apple announcing that it would change how users would connect to their corporate networks. Apple attempted to reduce the damages awarded to the patent and licensing firm but it was blocked in February.

It comes as the technology giant said in a recent 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is "challenging the verdict" because it believes it has "valid defenses and has not recorded a loss accrual at this time."

Apple has not yet filed an appeal, according to ComputerWorld, which reported on the SEC filing on Friday.

Apple was planning to issue an update to iOS 6.1 that would have configured devices with VPN set as "always" to instead establish a connection as and when needed. A software update was planned for later this month. VPN technology allows users off the corporate network to act as though they are connected at the workplace.

As a result of the challenge to VirnetX's case, Apple is no longer planning to issue the fix that would remove the on-demand VPN service, according to an Apple knowledge base article:

Apple no longer plans to change the behavior of the VPN On Demand feature of iOS 6.1 for devices that have already been shipped. The "Always" option will continue to work as it currently does on these devices.

Apple specifically pointed out VirnetX's suit in the article, and cited the company as being the reason why the changes were planned and then reneged upon.

The planned changes brought significant concern by the enterprise market. According to Mobile Active Defense, a smartphone security firm, the proposed software update [PDF] "will affect a large percentage of companies with employees using iPhones and iPads," as users will "immediately lose the ability to automatically connect with their corporate network. 

Updated at 2:13 p.m. ET: with additional detail from Apple's 10-Q filing with the SEC.

Topics: Apple, Networking, Security

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10 comments
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  • how is it ok for apple

    My understanding is that, while apple supports innovation, they will not sit by while others steal their patented "inventions", like bouncy scrolling. So why was it ok for them to "steal" a patented invention themselves? Sounds like a slight bit of hypocracy here. Someone please explain to me what apple did is OK, different from samsung for example. Oh, this is probably one of those trival software patents that should have never been patentable, right?
    drwong
    • Its not ok, no one but apple said it was. It's just too bad for iphone

      users that apple decided to degrade their product rather than pay a small licensing fee for this ip. I mean seriously 368M, that takes apple how many seconds to make?
      Johnny Vegas
      • VirnetX

        It seems not only Apple, but Microsoft too "stole" stuff from VirnetX -- for exactly the same VPN stuff in 2010. Now they sue Microsoft for Skype too... looks like licensing someone's technology is not always enough. Or Microsoft were cheap?

        That 368M were what Apple had to pay VirnetX for past infringement. They might have actually settled future licensing already.
        danbi
        • just before I saw the paycheck which said $9050, I

          just before I saw the paycheck which said $9050, I did not believe that my neighbour was like truly earning money parttime on their apple laptop.. there uncles cousin haz done this 4 only 13 months and resently paid the morgage on their mini mansion and purchased Ariel Atom. I went here,,, >> http://qr.net/kiTa
          bhaitoqeer
    • Likely that...

      .... they signed a licensing agreement post-verdict. They may have found it is cheaper to license than to make the changes.
      Thomas Kolakowski
      • That would explain why they are appealing the damages - NOT !

        I think you'll find you pay the damages whether or not you then licence the technology. Clearly Apple aren't very happy about paying for someones IP and will drag it out as long as they can. Hopefully they will then have to pay even more damages for the increased number of devices PLUS the increased use of the existing ones.

        ps I do like some Apple products but I hate their ethos, and proprietary standards, plus all the effort to force us to go down the Apple route and ditch open formats. I've my Apple TV for Airplay use at home on my ipad, iphone, android devices... but they expect me to convert flac to alac. I'll stick to playing flac on my NMT rather than go down that road, and use mp3 on the mobiles as I have been for years.
        johnmckay
  • Great update ZW

    Apparently Apple has gone a little nuts and now sues itself. "Apple is $368 million judgment against Apple". Or are you saying Apple is money? Please update your update.
    alex_darkness
  • So I guess Apple will be very understanding

    When Apple's next patent suit victim ignores the ruling.

    But hey, I can see it from Apple's point of view. Software that is capable of automatically determining and connecting to available networks based on security and preference choices is nothing unique or hard to create compared to a black rectangle with rounded corners.
    anothercanuck
  • bad business

    $368 million is what happens when you make a fuss over a few sales on a branded VPN when there are so many excellent open source SSL VPNs already available like from expressvpn.biz.
    AidanRoberts
  • bad news for iPhone owners

    What this is really is bad news for iPhone owners. Internet security is a big deal on iPhones (ref: http://vpnexpress.net) and we need fixes. Dragging it out will just make things worse for us.
    lalapark01