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Apple Targeted in New Patent Suit Over VPN on iOS

Patent holding firm VirnetX yesterday announced that it has filed suit against Apple, Cisco, NEC, and Aastra, alleging infringement of five patents held by the company. As noted by Computerworld, Apple is being targeted for claimed infringement by the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch of a pair of patents related to virtual private networking (VPN) connectivity.

VirnetX, which derives almost all of its revenue from licensing fees and legal judgments related to its patent portfolio, previously sued Microsoft over similar violations, with the two companies reaching a settlement in May that saw Microsoft pay VirnetX $200 million and license the intellectual property in question. One of the two patents Apple is alleged to have infringed upon is that same as one cited in the Microsoft case.

Wednesday's suit claimed that Apple's iPhone -- all models, including the newest iPhone 4 -- iPod Touch and iPad infringed a pair of VirnetX patents.

One of the two that Apple allegedly infringed -- identified as Patent No. 6,502,135 -- was also one of the pair that VirnetX said Microsoft violated.

The patent cited in both lawsuits, titled "Agile network protocol for secure communications with assured system availability," describes technologies for creating and managing a virtual private networking (VPN) connection.

The suit was filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, a popular location for patent cases known for its plaintiff-friendly judgments. The judge in the case, Leonard Davis, also presided over the Microsoft case and is particularly known for his willingness to rule in favor of plaintiffs in patent disputes.