Apple Plans to Appeal $439M ‘Final Judgment’ in FaceTime Patent Lawsuit With VirnetX

VirnetX today announced that the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has denied all of Apple's motions in a longstanding FaceTime-related patent lawsuit between the two companies.


The court also granted all of VirnetX's motions in the retrial and increased the royalty rates that Apple owes during the infringement period, resulting in a revised final judgment amount of $439.7 million.

"We are elated with the Court's Final Judgement of $439 million in that not only did it affirm the jury's verdict of $1.20 per infringing iPhone, iPad and Mac Product, but also added for willful infringement, interest and attorney fees. This is the third time a jury has ruled in our favor against Apple," said Kendall Larsen, VirnetX CEO.

VirnetX originally sued Apple in 2010 over allegations that FaceTime's peer-to-peer connection technology infringed upon its patents. VirnetX won its case in 2012, and Apple was hit with a $368.2 million judgment, but the appeals and retrial process has dragged on for over seven years until now.

Of note, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas is a hotbed for patent infringement lawsuits given several favorable outcomes for patent holding entities like VirnetX. Some would even call the company a patent troll, although it does appear to offer at least one product of some kind.

A spokesperson for Apple confirmed that it plans to appeal this final judgment, according to TechCrunch. It noted that the motions can still be appealed even if the original case was already appealed and lost.


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How to Capture a Live Photo in FaceTime on iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra

iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra bring Live Photos to FaceTime, allowing you to preserve a special memory while video chatting with friends and family. Whenever you use the new Camera button that's at the bottom of the screen on a FaceTime call, it captures a photo, but don't worry - this can't be done in secret and the other party is always notified when an image is captured.


How to Take a Live Photo in FaceTime



  1. Initiate a FaceTime video call.

  2. While in the call, press on the camera button that's located at the bottom of the display to the left of the red button for ending a call.

  3. Pressing the camera button captures a photo from the camera of the person you're chatting with, so if they have the front-facing camera on, you'll get a full image of their face as if they had taken the photo themselves.

  4. The Live Photo taken from the FaceTime call can then be found in the Photos app along with the rest of your photos.

Every time you take a Live Photo in FaceTime, the person on the other end of the video call receives a message letting them know that a Live Photo was taken, so capturing an image during FaceTime isn't something that can be done in secret. FaceTime Live Photos also don't capture audio.


Disable Live Photos in FaceTime


If you don't want people to be able to take a Live Photo when FaceTiming with you, it's easy to disable. Here's how:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Scroll down to the "FaceTime" option and tap it.

  3. Toggle off "FaceTime Live Photos."

With this setting toggled off, people you chat with will not be able to use the Live Photo in FaceTime feature. You can still take Live Photos of others, however, as long as their setting isn't toggled off.

FaceTime Live Photos only works when both FaceTime participants are running iOS 11 and have the option to enable/disable the feature. If someone isn't using iOS 11 and you attempt to capture a photo, you'll get a warning that all parties need to be running the new software.

FaceTime Live Photos on the Mac


FaceTime Live Photos are also available on Macs running macOS High Sierra. Capturing an image is done by clicking on the camera button, and toggling off Live Photos can be done on a Mac by opening the FaceTime app, choosing Preferences from the menu bar, and deselecting "Allow Live Photos to be captured during Video calls."

Related Roundups: iOS 11, macOS High Sierra
Tags: FaceTime, Live Photos

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Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on FaceTime and Other Video/Voice Calling Apps

Saudi Arabia today lifted a ban on services that provide access to calling someone over the internet, part of government efforts attempting to attract more business to the country. This means that "all online voice and video call services," including Apple's FaceTime, Microsoft's Skype, and Facebook's WhatsApp, opened up for user access last night at midnight (via Reuters).


These apps and services previously faced harsh regulations in Saudi Arabia with a ban that began in 2013, due to the government's wariness over secure internet communication. Now, users in the country will be able to FaceTime friends and family members, with the Saudi information ministry stating this should help "kick-start" the country's economy after recently being hit by low oil prices.
Saudi Arabia will lift a ban on internet phone calls, a government spokesman said, part of efforts to attract more business to the country. All online voice and video call services such as Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s WhatsApp that satisfy regulatory requirements will become accessible at midnight (2100 GMT), Adel Abu Hameed, spokesman for the telecoms regulator CITC said on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Digital transformation is one of the key kick-starters for the Saudi economy, as it will incentivise the growth of internet-based businesses, especially in the media and entertainment industries,” a statement from the information ministry said. “Access to VoIP (voice over internet protocol) will reduce operational costs and spur digital entrepreneurship – that’s why it is such an important step in the Kingdom’s internet regulation,” it said.
The Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission also published a press release [Google Translate] on the ban's lifting.

According to a tipster's email this morning, because iPhones sold in Saudi Arabia have had FaceTime completely blocked in the past, these devices will need some kind of carrier update in order to enable the feature. In response, local carriers are reportedly saying that this update is Apple's responsibility, so it's unclear when such an update will occur.


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Apple Denied Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit Related to Disabling FaceTime on iOS 6 and Earlier

United States district judge Lucy Koh has denied Apple's motion to dismiss a lawsuit related to disabling FaceTime on iOS 6 and earlier software versions three years ago, allowing the case to proceed as a class action lawsuit. MacRumors obtained court documents of the opinion filed electronically.


The lawsuit was filed in February by California resident and iPhone 4 owner Christina Grace, who claims Apple intentionally broke FaceTime on iOS 6 and earlier by disabling a digital certificate that caused the service to cease functioning. California resident Ken Patter was later named as a second plaintiff.

FaceTime abruptly stopped functioning for all iOS 6 users in April 2014. At the time, a spokesperson for Apple said devices may have encountered a "bug" resulting from a device certificate that expired on that date, and the company advised affected users to update to iOS 7 to fix the issue.

The lawsuit, however, alleges that Apple intentionally broke FaceTime, prioritizing its financial interests over its customers.

Apple used two connection methods when launching FaceTime in 2010: a peer-to-peer method that created a direct connection between two iPhones, allegedly used between 90 and 95 percent of the time, and a relay method that used data servers from content delivery network company Akamai Technologies.

Apple's peer-to-peer FaceTime technology was found to infringe on VirnetX's patents in 2012, however, so the company began to shift toward the relay method, which used Akamai's servers. Within a year, Apple was paying $50 million in fees to Akamai, according to testimony from the VirnetX trial.

Apple eventually solved the problem by creating new peer-to-peer technology that would debut in iOS 7 in September 2013. But not all users upgraded and, seven months later, the lawsuit alleges that Apple intentionally broke FaceTime on iOS 6 and earlier to stop paying millions per month to Akamai.

Testimony from Apple's 2016 retrial with VirnetX indicated that, between April 2013 and September 2013 alone, Apple paid approximately $50 million as a result of FaceTime functioning in relay mode only on iOS 6 and earlier.

Updating to iOS 7 could be seen as the simple solution in this situation. But the plaintiffs owned an iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s, and cited internet articles that claim updating to iOS 7 significantly impairs the performance and functionality of those smartphones. Their complaint also cited Bluetooth and Wi-Fi issues.

In its now-denied motion to dismiss, one of Apple's arguments was that the plaintiffs have no right to uninterrupted, continuous, or error-free FaceTime service under the terms of its iOS Software License Agreement. Apple also said the plaintiffs didn't experience the iOS 7 issues mentioned on their own iPhones.

The class action lawsuit would apply to all iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s owners in the United States who, on April 16, 2014, had iOS 6 or an earlier version of the operating system installed on that device. The plaintiffs claim Apple's actions violate California's Unfair Competition Law and are seeking a jury trial.


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Lawsuit Alleges Apple Broke FaceTime on iOS 6 to Force iOS 7 Upgrades, Save Money

Christina Grace of California has filed a new class-action lawsuit that alleges Apple broke FaceTime in iOS 6 to force users to upgrade to iOS 7, reports AppleInsider. According to the lawsuit, Apple forced users to upgrade so it could avoid payments on a data deal with Akamai.


The class action found its genesis in internal Apple documents and emails disclosed in the VirnetX patent infringement lawsuit, which eventually ended in Apple paying $302 million after a retrial. Apple used two connection methods when launching FaceTime in 2010: a peer-to-peer method that created a direct connection between two iPhones and a relay method that used data servers from Akamai.

When Apple's peer-to-peer FaceTime technology was found to infringe on VirnetX's patents in 2012, Apple began to shift toward Akamai's servers to handle iPhone-to-iPhone connections. A year later, Apple was paying $50 million in fees to Akamai, according to testimony from the VirnetX trial. The class-action lawsuit, pointing to an internal email titled "Ways to Reduce Relay Usage," alleges that the growing fees were beginning to bother Apple executives.

Apple eventually solved the problem by creating new peer-to-peer technology that would debut in iOS 7. The class-action lawsuit, however, alleges that Apple created a fake bug that caused a digital certificate to prematurely expire on April 16, 2014, breaking FaceTime on iOS 6. Breaking FaceTime on iOS 6, the lawsuit claims, would allow Apple to save money on users who did not upgrade to iOS 7.

At the time, Apple recognized the bug, publishing a support document saying that users who were having FaceTime connectivity problems after April 16, 2014 could update to the latest software to fix the issue. The same support document eventually removed the date "April 16, 2014," according to AppleInsider.

The lawsuit later points to an internal Apple email chain in which an engineering manager mentions that they were looking at the Akamai contract for the upcoming year and understood that Apple "did something" to reduce usage of Akamai's services. Another engineer responded by pointing out iOS 6 leaned a lot on Akamai's services and that Apple "broke iOS 6" and the only way to fix FaceTime was to upgrade to iOS 7.

Apple's developer page pegged iOS 7 adoption at 87 percent on April 7, 2014, nearly 10 days before Apple allegedly broke iOS 6. The lawsuit claims that forcing iPhone 4s and 4 users to upgrade to iOS 7 was harmful to them because the software would allegedly crash more and run more slowly.

The lawsuit is seeking undisclosed damages and to prove Apple violated California's unfair competition law.


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Lawsuit Alleges Apple Broke FaceTime on iOS 6 to Force iOS 7 Upgrades, Save Money

Christina Grace of California has filed a new class-action lawsuit that alleges Apple broke FaceTime in iOS 6 to force users to upgrade to iOS 7, reports AppleInsider. According to the lawsuit, Apple forced users to upgrade so it could avoid payments on a data deal with Akamai.


The class action found its genesis in internal Apple documents and emails disclosed in the VirnetX patent infringement lawsuit, which eventually ended in Apple paying $302 million after a retrial. Apple used two connection methods when launching FaceTime in 2010: a peer-to-peer method that created a direct connection between two iPhones and a relay method that used data servers from Akamai.

When Apple's peer-to-peer FaceTime technology was found to infringe on VirnetX's patents in 2012, Apple began to shift toward Akamai's servers to handle iPhone-to-iPhone connections. A year later, Apple was paying $50 million in fees to Akamai, according to testimony from the VirnetX trial. The class-action lawsuit, pointing to an internal email titled "Ways to Reduce Relay Usage," alleges that the growing fees were beginning to bother Apple executives.

Apple eventually solved the problem by creating new peer-to-peer technology that would debut in iOS 7. The class-action lawsuit, however, alleges that Apple created a fake bug that caused a digital certificate to prematurely expire on April 16, 2014, breaking FaceTime on iOS 6. Breaking FaceTime on iOS 6, the lawsuit claims, would allow Apple to save money on users who did not upgrade to iOS 7.

At the time, Apple recognized the bug, publishing a support document saying that users who were having FaceTime connectivity problems after April 16, 2014 could update to the latest software to fix the issue. The same support document eventually removed the date "April 16, 2014," according to AppleInsider.

The lawsuit later points to an internal Apple email chain in which an engineering manager mentions that they were looking at the Akamai contract for the upcoming year and understood that Apple "did something" to reduce usage of Akamai's services. Another engineer responded by pointing out iOS 6 leaned a lot on Akamai's services and that Apple "broke iOS 6" and the only way to fix FaceTime was to upgrade to iOS 7.

Apple's developer page pegged iOS 7 adoption at 87 percent on April 7, 2014, nearly 10 days before Apple allegedly broke iOS 6. The lawsuit claims that forcing iPhone 4s and 4 users to upgrade to iOS 7 was harmful to them because the software would allegedly crash more and run more slowly.

The lawsuit is seeking undisclosed damages and to prove Apple violated California's unfair competition law.


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Questionable Rumor Suggests Group FaceTime is Coming in iOS 11

Group FaceTime calls will be a new feature introduced in iOS 11, according to an unverified rumor shared by Israeli site The Verifier. Citing "several people familiar with iOS development," the site says group FaceTime calls are being worked on by Apple's iOS 11 team, with some of the work taking place in Israel.

Said to be a "social" update that focuses on iMessage and FaceTime development, iOS 11 will reportedly let users start multi-person calls through a group conversation in iMessage. Up to five people at once will be able to participate in a call.

facetime
The Verifier is not a site with an established track record for accurate rumors, so it is not clear how reliable this information is. We've heard few details on iOS 11 at this point in time, so the rumor should be viewed with skepticism until backed up by a secondary source.

The site also says that Apple could choose not to release group FaceTime calls in iOS 11, instead saving the feature for a future update.

Group FaceTime calls have been a long-desired feature on iOS and Mac devices, and would go a long way towards bringing FaceTime more in line with Microsoft's Skype software, which allows several people to communicate with one another through video chats.

iOS 11 will likely be released alongside new iPhones in the fall of 2017, but we expect to see a preview of the new software at the Worldwide Developers Conference, likely to be held in June of 2017.


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