Apple Pays $18 Million to Settle FaceTime Lawsuit

FaceTime logo

Apple is paying US$18 million to settle a lawsuit with VirnetX. The latter accused Apple of purposely breaking FaceTime on iOS 6, and a class action lawsuit was filed in 2017 (via Law360).

FaceTime Lawsuit

In February 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected Apple’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit. Now Apple has agreed to settle for US$18 million, most of which will pay attorney fees and expenses.

In 2012 a judge ruled that FaceTime infringed on VirnetX patents, so Apple began shifting toward a different relay method that used Akamai servers. Eventually Apple used a peer-to-peer method it introduced in iOS 7.

However, the lawsuit claims that Apple forced customers to upgrade so the company could avoid payments on a deal with Akamai, by intentionally creating a fake bug that caused a certificate to expire on April 16, 2014.

An email chain between Apple engineers was uncovered as part of the filing:

Hey, guys. I’m looking at the Akamai contract for next year. I understand we did something in April around iOS 6 to reduce relay utilization.

Another email:

It was a big user of relay bandwidth. We broke iOS 6, and the only way to get FaceTime working again is to upgrade to iOS 7.

Further Reading

[Supreme Court Rejects Apple’s Appeal in VirnetX Case]

[VirnetX Scores $625 Million from Apple for Patent Infringement]

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