Apple Fights Patent Trial Verdict to Keep iOS Security Feature Intact

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fischerfotos/Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has reversed an earlier decision to reconfigure how the VPN, or virtual private network, feature will operate on its iOS 6 powered devices. The original decision was in response to a patent lawsuit that Apple lost against the patent licensing firm VirnetX (AMEX:VHC). Instead, Apple will attempt to mount a challenge to the original verdict.

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Via Apple’s 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Cupertino-based company states “On August 11, 2010, VirnetX, Inc. filed an action against the Company alleging that certain of its products infringed on four patents relating to network communications technology. On November 6, 2012, a jury returned a verdict against the Company, and awarded damages of $368 million. The Company is challenging the verdict, believes it has valid defenses and has not recorded a loss accrual at this time.”

Apple had planned on altering the VPN default settings on iOS 6 based on the results of the lost lawsuit. The cancelled modification would have made the VPN feature a selectable option to activate, rather than being a default function that was always on.

Via its official website, Apple states “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 also notes on its website that the original VPN decision was in direct response to VirnetX’s lawsuit. “This is an update to an article describing potential changes to the behavior of VPN On Demand due to a lawsuit by VirnetX,” states Apple on its Support page.

Although Apple lost a challenge to the verdict in February, it recently requested that the original judge overturn his ruling that required Apple to pay ongoing royalty payments to VinetX until a licensing deal had been reached.

Whether or not Apple wins this latest challenge to the VirnetX patent lawsuit, the decision to keep VPN configured as a default feature is a victory for users of iOS-powered devices. Security firm Mobile Active Defense outlined the potential security risks of this iOS VPN modification in an impact analysis paper.

Apple closed up 2.16 percent at $417.20 on Friday. The chart below outlines Apple’s stock movement throughout the week.

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