U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III on Monday granted Apple’s motion to continue its Aug. 17 trial against VirnetX Inc. over secure VPN technology until Oct. 26.
“Smith County—and the Tyler Division more generally—is in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak,” Schroeder wrote in a brief order. “The continuance provided herein is relatively short, and its importance is not outweighed by VirnetX’s alleged prejudice.”
Apple argues that going forward with the trial during COVID19 poses a risk, saying that putting a dozen people in a room could lead to the virus spread through droplets in the air. However, VirnetX argued against the motion saying that Apple is simply wasting time in the district court as it moves to challenge the validity of the case at the US Patent and Trademark Office.
VirnetX has been litigating patent infringement against Apple since 2010. It has already collected one $440 million judgment against the iPhone maker and is seeking $700 million in the current case over Apple’s VPN on Demand feature. VirnetX had argued to Schroeder that it could be years before the COVID-19 threat fully subsides, and that Apple’s Kirkland team faces plenty of risk just by remaining in New York City.
“While COVID-19 is unprecedented, Apple requesting that the Court delay resolution of this dispute is not,” VirnetX argued in opposition signed by Caldwell Cassady & Curry partner Bradley Caldwell.
In March Virtnex received a $454 million payment from Apple as it currently seeks an additional $700 million over patent infringement damages. The hearing is currently set to place on October 26th.