Meta has been ordered to pay Walkie-Talkie messaging app creator Voxer more than $1.74 after a jury in Texas federal court found the social media giant violated two live-streaming patents on Facebook Live and Instagram Live billions of dollars in compensation.
The patents were developed by Voxer co-founder Tom Katis, a U.S. Army veteran who was trying to address shortcomings in battlefield communications after his combat troops were ambushed in Kunar province in 2003. Katis and the team began developing communications solutions in 2006, resulting in new technologies capable of transmitting real-time voice and video communications. Voxer was founded in 2007 and the Walkie-Talkie app was launched in 2011.
Court documents allege that Meta (then called Facebook) partnered with Voxer shortly after the app's launch in hopes of partnering with the app, and by February 2012, Voxer had disclosed to Meta its patent portfolio and proprietary technology. When the two companies failed to reach a partnership agreement, Meta identified Voxer as a competitor, despite not having its own live video or voice products at the time, according to the Voxer complaint. Meta then revoked Voxer's access to key components of Facebook's platform. Facebook Live launched in 2015 and Instagram Live in 2016.
Katis said he raised the issue of patent infringement when he "met" with a senior product manager at Facebook Live in 2016, but Meta refused to reach any agreement on its continued use of Voxer's technology, according to court documents.
The jury's unanimous verdict in the case awarded Voxer a total of $174,530,785 to be paid through current royalties. Meta said it would appeal the decision. "We believe the evidence at the trial indicates that Meta did not infringe Voxer's patents," a company spokesperson said in response. "We intend to seek a further discharge, including an appeal."