Meta Ordered to Pay $175M for Patent-Infringing Livestreaming Technology, Judge Rules

Meta Ordered to Pay $175M for Patent-Infringing Livestreaming Technology, Judge Rules

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $175 million to walkie-talkie app-maker Voxer for infringing on its patented video-streaming and messaging technologies. The ruling, which comes after a jury unanimously found Meta guilty of patent infringement last September, denies Meta’s request to either reject the verdict or grant a new trial.

Meta had argued that Voxer’s lawyer had made comments that biased the jury, and that the damages were improperly calculated by Voxer’s expert. However, US District Judge Lee Yeakel affirmed that substantial evidence supported the jury’s verdict and damages awarded to Voxer.

This decision brings Voxer closer to the end of a decade-long legal battle that began in 2012 when the company first met with Facebook to discuss a potential partnership. Voxer alleged that both Facebook Live and Instagram Live incorporate Voxer’s technologies and infringe on its patents.

Originally developed in 2006, Voxer’s technology improves battlefield communications. Tom Katis, one of the company’s co-founders, wanted to develop an app that could eliminate interruptions in transmissions that made soldiers vulnerable during ambushes or medevacs. The ambition eventually led to the walkie-talkie app that Voxer launched in 2011, which was so popular that it prompted meetings with Facebook in 2012.

As a result of sharing Voxer’s patent portfolio and proprietary technology with Facebook, the partnership fell apart, and Facebook revoked Voxer’s access to its platform. Meta launched Facebook Live in 2015 and Instagram Live in 2016 without Voxer’s involvement.

Meta has maintained for the past three years that there was no patent infringement, but this week, the company did not repeat those statements. Voxer’s win is due to Katis’ foresight in filing patents as he developed a bold new kind of technology. He quickly filed more than 75 patents after launching the walkie-talkie app, successfully patenting the technology because, in his own words, “no one”—including Facebook—”was crazy enough” to try to develop livestreaming tech like the vision he had for Voxer.

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