Meta fined $174.5 million for stealing technology from startup

New blow for Mark Zuckerberg who saw his fortune of 70 billion dollars melt in 2022. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, was ordered on Wednesday to pay 174.5 million dollars in damages to Voxer. The app accused the tech giant of infringing on its patents. The trial opened in Austin last week.

After the failure of a collaboration

A Texas jury has determined that Meta did copy walkie-talkie messaging patents in its live streaming features on Facebook Live and Instagram Live. The mobile app enables “the transmission of audio and video communications with the immediacy of live and the reliability and ease of messaging,” according to the complaint, even under poor network conditions and even if the recipient is not available.

Voxer had launched lawsuits in 2020 claiming that the Californian group had used its patented technology after the failure of an attempt to collaborate between the two companies in 2012. Voxer explains that it was contacted by Facebook shortly after the launch of its service in 2011, which was an “immediate success”. The start-up would then have provided the details of its technologies to the social network, but “the meetings did not lead to an agreement”, detail its lawyers.

Meta would like to appeal

“Facebook then identified Voxer as a competitor even though it had no live video or audio tools at the time,” the complaint states. “Facebook revoked Voxer’s access to key elements of the platform and launched Facebook Live in 2015 and then Instagram Live in 2016. Both products include Voxer technologies and violate its patents”, asserts the plaintiff.

Meta intends to appeal, said a spokesperson for the American giant. “We believe the evidence presented at trial shows that Meta did not infringe Voxer’s patents,” he said.

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