Texas federal court has found Meta guilty of violating two patents for live streaming with Facebook Live and Instagram Live. The company will now have to pay more than $174 million in damages to Voxer, the Walkie-Talkie messaging app creator.
These patents were developed by Voxer co-founder Tom Katis, a U.S. Army veteran who sought to correct communication deficiencies on the battlefield after his combat unit was ambushed in Kunar Province in 2003. In 2006, Katis and his team began developing communications solutions, resulting in a new technology that enables real-time voice and video communications. In 2007, they created Voxer, and in 2011 they launched the Walkie-Talkie app.
Court filings show that Meta (then known as Facebook) approached Voxer shortly after launching the app with an offer to collaborate. Then, by February 2012, Voxer disclosed its patent portfolio and patented technologies to Meta.
In the end, the two companies couldn’t agree to work together and Meta called Voxer a competitor. Although at that time the company didn’t have its own product for live video or voice communication. Meta then denied Voxer access to key components of the Facebook platform.
According to Katis, he raised the issue of patent infringement during a “chance meeting” with a senior Facebook Live product manager in 2016. However, according to court documents, Meta refused to enter into any agreement to continue using Voxer’s technology any further.
A unanimous jury verdict in the case awards Voxer a total of $174,530,785, to be paid in permanent royalties. Meta said it will appeal the decision. “We believe the evidence at trial demonstrated that Meta did not infringe Voxer’s patents,” a company spokesman said in response to an AFP inquiry. “We intend to seek further relief, including filing an appeal.”