After losing a patent infringement lawsuit, Meta is facing a hefty bill. A federal judge in Texas has ordered the company to pay an ongoing royalty of nearly $175 million to Voxer, the developer of the Walkie Talkie app.
Meta was accused by Voxer of infringing on its patents and incorporating that technology into Instagram Live and Facebook Live.
According to TechCrunch, Tom Katis, the founder of Voxer, began working on a way to solve communication problems he encountered while serving in the US Army in Afghanistan in 2006.
Katis and his team created technology that allows for live voice and video transmissions, which led to the Walkie Talkie app debuting on Voxer in 2011.
According to the lawsuit, Meta (then known as Facebook) approached Voxer about a collaboration soon after the app was released. Voxer is said to have disclosed its proprietary technology and patent portfolio to Meta, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.
Even though Meta didn’t have live video or voice services at the time, Voxer claims that it identified the Walkie Talkie developer as a competitor and blocked access to Facebook features like the “Find Friends” tool.
In 2015, Meta debuted Facebook Live. Katis claims that in early 2016, he had a chance meeting with a Facebook Live product manager to discuss alleged infringements of Voxer’s patents in that product, but Meta declined to reach an agreement with the company.
Later that year, the latter launched Instagram Live. In the lawsuit, Voxer claimed that “both products incorporate Voxer’s technologies and infringe its patents.”
Meta denied Voxer’s claims in a statement to TechCrunch. It plans to fight the ruling. “We believe the evidence at trial demonstrated that Meta did not infringe Voxer’s patents,” a spokesperson said. “We intend to seek further relief, including filing an appeal.”