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Apple loses patent-infringement trial over Cover Flow, Time Machine

post #1 of 129
Thread Starter 
Apple has lost a patent case against its Cover Flow and Time Machine interfaces, despite some of the infringement charges from claimant Mirror Worlds being ruled invalid.

Mirror Worlds LLC filed the lawsuit in 2008, alleging that Apple had infringed on patents for creating "streams" of documents sorted by time. According to Bloomberg, a federal jury sided with Mirror Worlds on Friday, although specific details of the ruling were unavailable.

The judgment wasn't completely one-sided, though. Legal news site Law360 noted (registration required) in August that some of Mirror Worlds' claims again Apple had been ruled invalid for "indefiniteness."

Mirror Worlds' patents were based on research by Yale professor David Gelernter and then-doctoral student Eric Freeman. Gelernter emerged as a prominent computer scientist in the 1980s, eventually developing a time-based method of organizing data that he dubbed "lifestreaming." Patents for the concept date back as early as 1999 (1, 2, 3, 4).

In a March interview, Gelernter told Big Think that though he no longer held the patents for the suit, which he was told is the "largest lawsuit in patent history," he was still upset about not getting credit for the ideas.

Gelernter sees the Mac OS X features Spotlight and Time Machine, as well as the iTunes Cover Flow feature, as being taken from his ideas on "lifestreaming."

"That makes me angry personally, not because of the money, but because of the deliberate failure to acknowledge work that we would have made freely available as academics and that companies will not acknowledge because there is so much money involved."

The lawsuit was submitted to the Tyler County court in eastern Texas, an area known for favoring patent owners. In a study by Stanford Law professor Mark Lemley, an analysis of ten years of patent lawsuits revealed that the Eastern District of Texas has a higher than average claimant win percentage and a better chance of going to trial.

post #2 of 129
If it's true then Apple must pay up. How much is such a technology worth? The story didn't say anything about damages being awarded or the disposition of the future usage of the technology. What's up?
post #3 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

If it's true then Apple must pay up. How much is such a technology worth? The story didn't say anything about damages being awarded or the disposition of the future usage of the technology. What's up?

Appeals are next.
Apple knows that the secret to success is to be wealthy enough to drag it out for decades until it's irrelevant.
post #4 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

If it's true then Apple must pay up. How much is such a technology worth? The story didn't say anything about damages being awarded or the disposition of the future usage of the technology. What's up?

I agree. Apple will probably have to pony up on this one. A Yale computer prof is unlikely to be some patent-trolling slouch.

Also, this seems like a half-reported story. It'll be useful to get all the details.
post #5 of 129
He claims himself he no longer held the patents, he filed it in a middle-of-nowhere district that has statistically favourable patent wins, the idea was never marketed, and nobody even bothers to consider that maybe someone else came up with the same idea independently.

Yale professor or not, definite troll.
post #6 of 129
Frankly, I think apple could drop CoverFlow completely and no one would notice.
post #7 of 129
Pay off the obvious patent troll and move on. Problem solved.
post #8 of 129
My god these patents sound awfully vague and obvious.

If iTunes Coverflow is a violation, clearing holding playing cards fanned in your hand is a pre-cursor to this. Is it really any different?
post #9 of 129
Apple acquired the coverflow tech from a guy who posts over at Ars-- can't remember his screen name off hand. The Ars guy had been selling (or maybe it was freeware?) a very popular coverflow-esque piece of software and when Apple released their implementation everyone at Ars was like "Wow, dude, did Apple just steal that from you or what?"

He said that he and Apple had struck a deal but that he couldn't go into specifics. At any rate, that's neither here nor there for the purposes of the lawsuit, but if anyone appropriated old tech it was the original author-- and I'm pretty sure he wrote it from scratch for fun.
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post #10 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Headrush69 View Post

My god these patents sound awfully vague and obvious.

If iTunes Coverflow is a violation, clearing holding playing cards fanned in your hand is a pre-cursor to this. Is it really any different?



Much like the ones from Apple that have been posted on here and 9to5mac.
post #11 of 129
I think patents are like domain names. One can register a .com and never use it. So if you have a company that would like to use an existing domain, you can buy it from the registrar or use a different domain name.

Patenting an idea should have a conditioned time/expiration that if nothing has been made or applied to an actual usable product, then the patent will expire and becomes public.
post #12 of 129
Apple is famous for patenting the most trivial details so it serves them right to lose a patent suit against someone who invented technologies that Apple sells.
post #13 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by galore View Post

Apple is famous for patenting the most trivial details so it serves them right to lose a patent suit against someone who invented technologies that Apple sells.

This kind of thing gets said a lot but it doesn't appear to me that Apple is particularly litigious or given to suing people for "trivial details"-- at least not compared to other big consumer tech companies. If it serves them right it would seem that you'd be hard pressed to name a major CE player that didn't deserve similar.
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post #14 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I agree. Apple will probably have to pony up on this one. A Yale computer prof is unlikely to be some patent-trolling slouch.

Also, this seems like a half-reported story. It'll be useful to get all the details.

I have yet to see bloggers or news media report a story in full. Accuracy and truth have never been a part of journalism, but the illusion of them always has been.
post #15 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbarriault View Post


Yale professor or not, definite troll.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Pay off the obvious patent troll and move on.

These are pretty arrogant views, is all I can say.
post #16 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

This kind of thing gets said a lot but it doesn't appear to me that Apple is particularly litigious or given to suing people for "trivial details"-- at least not compared to other big consumer tech companies. If it serves them right it would seem that you'd be hard pressed to name a major CE player that didn't deserve similar.

You must have missed the law suit where Apple sued some old granny for making pot holders because Apple considered them to be confused with their iPod lineup. Talk about frivolous...
post #17 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

This kind of thing gets said a lot but it doesn't appear to me that Apple is particularly litigious or given to suing people for "trivial details"-- at least not compared to other big consumer tech companies. If it serves them right it would seem that you'd be hard pressed to name a major CE player that didn't deserve similar.


No they are not preticularly litigious. They just have numerous patents and sit back and wait for one that is really worth persuing. Smart on one hand, but on the other not one that I for one can respect. (Not that other companies don't do this as well)
post #18 of 129
Here's the thread at Ars where "Catfish" introduces his Coverflow visual browser, asking for feedback.

Again, since Apple acquired this and is selling it it doesn't have any bearing on the lawsuit, but anyone thinking that Apple "stole" this from the plaintiff should probably talk to Catfish.
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post #19 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sofabutt View Post

You must have missed the law suit where Apple sued some old granny for making pot holders because Apple considered them to be confused with their iPod lineup. Talk about frivolous...

And you must have missed the fact that there was no "lawsuit", just a cease and desist letter for someone using the lower case "i" in front of their product name. Apple is fairly aggressive about protecting that "i" as part of their trade dress, which has pretty much nothing to do with big companies suing each other for patent infringement or the kind of patent trolling that is endemic to the industry.
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post #20 of 129
Let's just give east texas back to its rightful owner - Mexico.
post #21 of 129
Go figure... Tyler, Texas. Land of the inbreds.
post #22 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

These are pretty arrogant views, is all I can say.

Arrogant or not, I agree with their sentiments.

There are too many lawsuits over software patents. Heck, there are too many lawsuits in general. For that reason, it doesn't matter if the case is good or bad, frivolous or not, promoting "freedom and liberty to sue" or not. I just want to see less suing and less media coverage of that suing as a result.

The sad fact of the matter is, anyone can sue over a nutty software patent and win, just by bring the case to Texas state. It's ridiculous.
post #23 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Frankly, I think apple could drop CoverFlow completely and no one would notice.

I would!...

And besides, doesn't that diagram look like a feature of Windows 7?

Why weren't they sued?!

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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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post #24 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

I would!...

And besides, doesn't that diagram look like a feature of Windows 7?

Why weren't they sued?!


i have win7 on my lenovo, i have not found any feature that does that, at least not on the ultimate edition.

I think that this is really pointless, Apple should really just try to buy it instead of appealing etc.

PC means personal computer.  

i have processing issues, mostly trying to get my ideas into speech and text.

if i say something confusing please tell me!

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PC means personal computer.  

i have processing issues, mostly trying to get my ideas into speech and text.

if i say something confusing please tell me!

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post #25 of 129
He ain't doing it for the money?
Man kiss my a**!!
it's always about the money! you ain't heard?
OMFG!!!!!!
Patent troll like all the rest of them.
post #26 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

These are pretty arrogant views, is all I can say.


They say if you can't "do"... teach.

Being a professor in no way implies any special abilities or merit. In fact it's a deliberate career path to take yourself out of the world of competition for business and ideas. Those ivory towers are designed with excessive insulation.

So his idea of a 'lifestream' somehow covers an album cover flipbook? I think that's a bit of a stretch.
post #27 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by oxygenhose View Post

Being a professor in no way implies any special abilities or merit.

Yeah, like that Professor Einstein fellow, he was a total retard. How about that imbecile Professor Hawking, eh?

If a guy is a professor in a place like Princeton, or Cambridge, or Yale --that guy is plenty smart no matter how many snide remarks you can come up with.
post #28 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

Yeah, like that Professor Einstein fellow, he was a total retard. How about that imbecile Professor Hawking, eh?

If a guy is a professor in a place like Princeton, or Cambridge, or Yale --that guy is plenty smart no matter how many snide remarks you can come up with.

oh dear, I think that you will find that Academics can be the worst infringers of intellectual property. They often 'borrow' the ideas of others to advance themselves. Its a serious cutthroat business. Morals have no place in academia. Glad you picked Albert Einstein as an example as he was also a thief/plagiarist.
post #29 of 129
So why does he submitted the claim in a place where the outcome is favourable to him if he is confident he is still entitled to it then? Not so 'honest' himself does he?
post #30 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splash-reverse View Post

So why does he submitted the claim in a place where the outcome is favourable to him if he is confident he is still entitled to it then? Not so 'honest' himself does he?

According to the article, the suit was filed by the owners of the patent, Mirror Worlds. It says the professor is no longer the owner of the patent. Why are you and others going off on the professor? Maybe the story could have been written more clearly.
post #31 of 129
The question is: What intent did this professor have to actually implement this feature? If he had none, then he shouldn't have a patent, and he would be a "patent troll" - Whether or not it is a ligitimate person who's actually done research or not. If he had no plans to use it, he was sitting on the patent.

Its not fair to say "I claimed the idea first so you have to pay me if you have the same idea." Its only fair to say "I came up with this idea, and I have a right to bring it to market and monetise it.
post #32 of 129
It seems likely that Apple (and Mr. Coverflow) came up with these ideas independently. Theyre really not the same thing, merely similar in some ways.

I can imagine the frustration that could be felt by someone who came up with something similarId feel the same way! But these things happenit doesnt mean an intentional theft and cover-up! (Still, if he has legal rights because of his ideas, then I hope Apple will comply with the law.)
post #33 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Apple acquired the coverflow tech from a guy who posts over at Ars-- can't remember his screen name off hand. The Ars guy had been selling (or maybe it was freeware?) a very popular coverflow-esque piece of software and when Apple released their implementation everyone at Ars was like "Wow, dude, did Apple just steal that from you or what?"

That would be Catfish. It was written in Cocoa and based on an idea someone had about flipping of physical albums to find one you want. Apple acquired the intellectual property and code.

Here's the Ars thread: http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtop...?f=19&t=313706

To be honest I'm shocked there is a patent from '99. This was a well researched topic during the 80s and early 90s in the Human Computer Interaction field, including at Apple.

Best to Apple in its appeal.
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post #34 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by galore View Post

Apple is famous for patenting the most trivial details so it serves them right to lose a patent suit against someone who invented technologies that Apple sells.

Have you looked at Apple's patent portfolio? Ever?
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post #35 of 129
Coverflow, the first time I saw it, reminded me of this device they used to advertise in the 70's where you'd load it up with LP's and you could flip through them, I can't remember what it was called, it was a long time ago.

As far as timescape goes a text based list will serve the same purpose as a series of screenshots.
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post #36 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

These are pretty arrogant views, is all I can say.

Don't be surprised, they all come from users who think Apple invented GSM.
post #37 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

Yeah, like that Professor Einstein fellow, he was a total retard. How about that imbecile Professor Hawking, eh?

If a guy is a professor in a place like Princeton, or Cambridge, or Yale --that guy is plenty smart no matter how many snide remarks you can come up with.

My father was a very respected professor. Many of his colleagues are people I have immense respect for. Many of them are complete assholes. Some of them are idiots.
post #38 of 129
Nobody read the article. The prof. NO LONGER owns the patent. He is NOT the one suing apple.
post #39 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Frankly, I think apple could drop CoverFlow completely and no one would notice.

I thought I was the only one who could see little value in Coverflow - I never use Coverflow preferring instead the list views as I find them faster and more efficient.

Each to their own I guess.
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Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equpped with 18,000 vaccuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vaccuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons.
by Popular Mechanics
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post #40 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by markm49uk View Post

I thought I was the only one who could see little value in Coverflow - I never use Coverflow preferring instead the list views as I find them faster and more efficient.

Each to their own I guess.

CoverFlow is the least important of the items listed though. TimeMachine would be the top of the importance list IMHO. As others have said, the concept of time in filing seems to go far further than any examples cited, every OS out there is underpinned by this I would have thought.

On the specific claims in this trial I see an appeal coming unless Apple simply buy the rights.
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Long on AAPL so biased. Strong advocate for separation of technology and politics on AI.
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