Microsoft guilty in VPN patent case

March 19, 2010 // 10:03 a.m.

Tags: #cia #microsoft #patent #saic #virnetx #virtual-private-networking #vpn #vpn-patent

Microsoft has found itself in legal hot water - and at the wrong end of a particularly expensive ruling - following claims that it had infringed on a patent regarding virtual private networking technologies.

As reported over on DigitalTrends, a jury in Tyler, Texas has found Microsoft guilty of willful infringement of two patents on VPN technologies originally developed by the Science Applications International Corporation for the US Central Intelligence Agency, and currently owned by VPN specialist VirnetX.

The case, which has been ongoing since 2007, claimed that Microsoft infringed a pair of SAIC patents in its implementation of virtual private networking - the ability to create an encrypted tunnel to another network over the Internet and act as a local machine to that network - in the Windows operating system, and sought $242 million in damages.

While the jury hasn't awarded VirnetX the full amount it was asking for, it has prompted the court to order Microsoft to pay $105.6 million (£62.3 million) in damages to the company - a figure which the judge has the option of trebling due to the willful nature of Microsoft's infringement.

Microsoft will almost certainly be appealing the ruling, and has previously claimed that its VPN technology was developed completely independently of SAIC's implementation and as a result does not fall foul of the patents.

Do you think Microsoft should pay up, or could a guilty verdict be the start of a slippery slope for anyone who relies on VPN technology? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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