Biz Break: Apple has 625.6 million reasons to be happy

Top Of The Order:  

That’s A Big Disappointment: The next time you drive over to Lake Tahoe, why don’t you do something different?

Sure, you could stop at the Beacon Bar & Grill (home of the Rum Runner!), or you could take the gondola ride up to the top of the Heavenly ski resort. You could even step across the state line into Nevada and place a bet on your favorite football team to win the Super Bowl at the MontBleu resort’s sports book.

Or, you could keep on driving a few miles north along Highway 50 until you get to a spot called Zephyr Cove, Nevada. Once there you can knock on the door of a place and when someone answers, ask them how it feels to have been this close to winning $625.6 million from Apple, only to have a U.S. district judge say, “Uh…Nope.”

That’s what happened to a company located in Zephyr Cove called VirnetX Holding. Yeah, you might not have heard about them, and the way VirnetX’s shares performed Monday, it seems like a lot of investors wanted to forget about them. More on that later.

You see, late Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder, who holds court in Tyler, Texas, did the equivalent of lighting fire in his courtroom to a ruling that had awarded VirnetX $625.6 million from Apple in a patent infringement case. VirnetX had alleged that Apple violated four of its patents related to internet security technology when it used VirnetX’s technology in it FaceTime and iMessage applications.

Schroder threw out the verdict on the grounds that Apple had been treated unfairly in the case. How unfairly?

Schroeder said that two VirnetX lawsuits that were combined into one single trial shouldn’t have happened. He said that wasn’t fair to Apple because jurors might have been confused about the issues involved in the different cases at the time of the trial.

In a statement, VirnetX Chief Executive Kendall Larsen said the kinds of things you might have expected from a guy who had been victorious over the world’s most valuable company, and was then faced with having to pay a bunch of lawyers even more money: Judge Schroeder ordered the cases to be retried separately, and the first trial to start Sept. 26.

“We are disappointed,” Larsen said. “We are reviewing all our options and will follow the Court’s decision as we start preparing for these retrials.”

And for VirnetX, Schroeder’s ruling was enough to scare off many of the company’s shareholders on Monday. By the time the stock markets closed, VirnetX’s shares had fallen more than 43 percent to close at $2.44. You have to wonder if they thought that placing a Super Bowl bet at the MontBleu sports book was a better investment than VirnetX’s stock.

Middle Innings: 

Put A Few More Zeroes On That Check, Please: Speaking of Apple, Tim Cook looks to have a very busy few weeks ahead of him.

Apple hasn’t confirmed anything, but the company is expected to hold an event next month in which it will unveil the next iteration of the iPhone, the so-called iPhone 7. I won’t say that I know 100 percent that I think the Seattle Seahawks will win the next Super Bowl, but I will say with 100 bazillion percent certainty that Apple will hold an iPhone event in about six weeks. The company does this every fall, and it will do it again this year.

So, that’s one thing that Cook has to get ready for. But before that, Cook might soon be running around his house making sure all the dust bunnies have been vacuumed up and the sofa cushions are properly fluffed: According to BuzzFeed, Cook is going to host a fundraiser on Aug. 24 for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

BuzzFeed said it obtained a copy of the invitation to the event, which will be held to raise money for the Hillary Victory Fund. That fund raises money for Clinton’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and Democratic parties in 38 states. The location has not yet been disclosed.

Apple itself doesn’t make donations to either Democrat or Republican candidates, and Cook will host the event as a private citizen. BuzzFeed said contribution levels for the event are $50,000, $10,000 and a relatively inexpensive $2,700. It won’t be the first fundraising event involving Cook this year, as he reportedly held one last month for House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Bottom Of The Lineup: 

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley stocks did Monday…

Movin’ On Up: Gains came from Synaptics, which rose more than 10 percent, as well as Genomic Health, ShoreTel, Cepheid and Netflix.

In The Red: Decliners included SolarCity, which fell 7.4 percent after the solar-panel company agreed to be acquired by Tesla Motors for $2.6 billion in stock. Losses also came from Advanced Micro Devices, FireEye, Gigamon and Harmonic.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.4 percent to 5,184.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped by 0.2 percent to 27.73.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gave up 0.1 percent to end the day at 2,170.

Quote Of The Day:  “Apple give Jay his check for Tidal now and stop trying to act like you Steve.” — The one and only Kanye West, who went on a bit of a Twitter rant in which he said Apple should immediately buy the Tidal music-streaming service.

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Photo: Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the stage for a product launch event March 21, 2016, at Apple headquarters in Cupertino. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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