US court fines Meta $174.5 million for patent infringement

A US jury on Wednesday ordered Meta Network to pay $174.5 million for infringing patents linked to a live-streaming service developed by a US Army veteran, seeking to fix deficiencies in battlefield communications, the Emirati statement said.

Legal documents showed that a trial in a federal court in Texas ended with a jury ruling that the “live” features on Facebook and Instagram use technology patented by Foxxer, the company co-founded by Tom Katniss.

“We believe that the evidence at trial showed that Meta did not infringe Foxxer’s patents,” a spokesperson for the giant network said in response to a question by AFP.

“We intend to take additional steps, including to appeal the ruling,” he added.

Court files stated that Katis was re-enlisted in the army after the September 2001 attacks in the United States, and served as a communications sergeant for special forces in Afghanistan.

When his combat unit was ambushed in Kunar State, Katis felt that the systems for coordinating reinforcements, medical evacuations, etc. “were unsuitable for time-sensitive communications with multiple groups in a highly turbulent environment.”

“Katis and his team began developing communications solutions in 2006 to address these shortcomings,” his lawyers said, “and new technologies have enabled the transmission of voice and video communications, with the immediacy of direct communication, the reliability and the convenience of messaging services.”

Facebook contacted San Francisco-based Foxr about potential collaboration after it launched Walkie Talkie in 2011, but no agreement was reached, according to legal documents.

Instead, Facebook went ahead with its live streaming services, Facebook Live and Instagram Live, incorporating Foxr technology into the features, according to the lawsuit.

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