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Lawsuit targets time-based sorting in Apple's iPods, Time Machine

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
A Texas-based lawsuit claims that virtually all of Apple's product line infringes on a system for organizing data by time, but draws its closest connection with the Time Machine backup feature in Mac OS X Leopard.

Submitted late last week to a Tyler Division court in the southern US state, the seven-page complaint by Mirror Worlds Technologies accuses Apple of violating four distinct but related patents that touch on creating "streams" of documents that are automatically sorted according to time stamps, including future dates assigned to calendars and other reminders.

Dating back as early as 1999, the patents (1, 2, 3, 4) describe a highly visual system that displays a line of documents and other items dating back (or forward) in time along with the option of searching these items to retrieve and edit them.

Users of the system could also set up personalized versions of these feeds, or "lifestreams," as well as separate "substreams" that cover more focused topics. The approach is similarly billed as useful for searching an enterprise database.

In images accompanying the patents, Mirror Worlds portrays a system with more than a passing resemblance to Time Machine, Apple's automated backup utility in Mac OS X.



The plaintiff stops short of drawing a direct connection between the operating system feature and its patent claims but argues that both Macs and Mac OS X infringe on all four patents. However, for all but one of the patents, the company alleges that iPods and iPhones are also guilty of the infringement.

The Mac maker doesn't use a visually identical system on any of its handheld devices but often sorts podcasts and similar material by the date it was received.

Apple has been aware of the patents' existence starting from late 2001 and so is responsible for "willful and deliberate" violations, according to the plaintiff, which argues that Apple is damaging Mirror Worlds' business. The lawsuit would have an injunction issued against any Apple products found infringing on the patents and asks for triple damages.

As is the company's usual practice, Apple has not commented on the lawsuit.
post #2 of 41
Sounds like there should be massive amounts of prior art on this one.

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post #3 of 41
Indeed. Sorting or organizing data by time stamp (last changed or updated) is completely original an unique.



Goodness.
post #4 of 41
Doesn't Apple license the interface for the Classic and Nano?
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post #5 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Sounds like there should be massive amounts of prior art on this one.

Agreed.

That type of sorting predates computing by several thousand years.
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post #6 of 41
Source: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=603242

"According to the companys web page as shown by the Internet Archive
Wayback Machine, Mirror Worlds Technologies, Inc. ceased operations
effective May 15, 2004 and all of its products, including Scopeware,
were discontinued."
post #7 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Agreed.

That type of sorting predates computing by several thousand years.

That's not really very relevant. If they had truly invented a new process to use a computer to do something which people had been doing manually for 5,000 years, they would be entitled to a patent.

Of course, even with computers, this is old news - unless I'm imagining the work I've done with relational databases for 20 years.
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post #8 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A Texas-based lawsuit claims that virtually all of Apple's product line infringes on a system for organizing data by time, but draws its closest connection with the Time Machine backup feature in Mac OS X Leopard.

Hmmm. In the 1980's I worked with text weather data that was sorted by time and displayed by time. Displays of satellite and radar data are loops of pictures based on time. And then there are source control systems that store revisions of files based on time of check-in. Aren't these all examples of data being stored/displayed/organized by time.???? I think there is plenty of prior art here.
post #9 of 41
Wow I bet apple is losing sleep over this one

Reminds me of Phil Hendrie's Ted Bell patenting the foiled bake potato.
post #10 of 41
right now, im giving them the finger.

now, im giving the patent office the finger.

now, im questioning the meaning of life

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post #11 of 41
No shot in hell of this passing the smell test.
post #12 of 41
Out of the past 20 or so claims I've seen here during the past year or two, I'd say this one actually has some merit. Obviously sorting by time has no intellectual value, but the perspective view going back into time is a lot like time machine. To the extent that such a display configuration can be patented, this company does have a claim. Unlike other patents we've seen here that are over broad (for example "a system for retrieving music over a network"), this is both specific and detailed.

By no means do I believe Apple copied these people, but patent law does not require that. If you independently develop something somebody else already patented, you still need to come to an agreement.

If I were Apple I'd argue that the concept is "obvious" (or however you say obvious in legalize). I'd look for footage in movies that show this kind of sequence with newspapers or magazines, for example. There may even be some prior art for this time sequence display, but I can't recall anything off the top of my head.

But this is one that IMHO cannot simply be dismissed out of hand as spurious.
post #13 of 41
I knew I should have patented my idea for a device that does something for someone.

I could have been suing everybody and their mom for everything.
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by rptally View Post

Source: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=603242

"According to the companys web page as shown by the Internet Archive
Wayback Machine, Mirror Worlds Technologies, Inc. ceased operations
effective May 15, 2004 and all of its products, including Scopeware,
were discontinued."

Patents aren't invalidated if the company goes under.
post #15 of 41
As for time based sorting:

ls -ltr

Hello UNIX, 1980.

As for this streams thing... What's funny is I remember this vividly. There was a presentation about it on some TV show (The computer chronicles?) and it seemed really neat at the time.

But as usual, the company never actually *DID* anything with it, and thus went under. Meanwhile, Apple may have used some of the same ideas, but was successful.

Patents should be invalidated if the holding company doesn't generate a product during a reasonable amount of time. No product, no patent. No one should be able to sit on a patent for years and then sue the first company that happens to come up with the same idea and is successful.

Better yet, lets get rid of software patents altogether. The world will be a better place!
post #16 of 41
"A long time ago in a galaxy far far away...." Look familiar?

Does it for me.
post #17 of 41
Ok all you true Mac gurus out there... Didn't apple have a conceptual 3-D file browser back in the 90s? I forget what they called it, but if I recall correctly you used the mouse to push deeper into your stack of documents. There are also many software programs that will arrange your open documents, one on top of the next, in a particular order.

Also, Canon's digital camera software has a very similar view for browsing through your digital photo collection. It wouldn't pre-date the patent filing, but another example of how obvious the concept is. And how many times in movies have you seen newspapers floating in front of the camera with headlines to show the passage of time?

EDIT: Ok, here is a link to a story that makes reference to Apple's technology:

"Indeed, SpaceBrowser's 3D view is reminiscent of an Apple research project made public in the mid-1990s, which visualised the web as a fly-through 3D space. Connected websites were represented by linked page icons stacked into the screen, as it were. The code, separately dubbed Project X and HotSauce, was released in 1996 as a plug-in for a existing Mac and PC browsers."

While it's not browsing files chronologically, it's using a 3D interface to navigate organized information, in this case a series of linked web pages.
post #18 of 41
Mirror World? Anyone heard of it before? I know I dont and I use the internet about 6 hours a day finding junks.
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post #19 of 41
I normally disagree with these patent claims. However, looking at the screenshots of Scopeware Vision it certainly seems that they both have a pretty similar idea (cascading windows of search results through time).

I haven't seen this interface idea anywhere except Time Machine or Scopeware.

http://www.arnoldit.com/articles/iwr.../scopeware.gif
http://www.infovis.net/imagenes/T1_N...WareStream.gif

ScopeWare was a real product in 2001 (maybe earlier). It seems unique and was the results of real development, new ideas and independent research. It was a search tool for looking insider all file on your computer just like Spotlight and it presented the results like Time Machine. The reviews back then called it quite a revolutionary take on the desktop metaphor back then. I agree, and think Time Machine is such a clever interface for the same reasons.

Quote:
By dragging your cursor across the cascading cards in Scopeware Vision as though you're strumming a harp, you can rewind into the past and fast-forward into the future. The idea is to make searching easier, on the premise that files and messages for a certain project tend to enter your life at roughly the same time. When you find the file or message you want, you double-click it to open it as usual.

Sound familiar? That's talking about it in 2003, http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/is...gelernter.html

I can't see how it relates to the iPod interface at all.
post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

While it's not browsing files chronologically, it's using a 3D interface to navigate organized information, in this case a series of linked web pages.

Project X/ Hotsauce wasn't at all like Time Machine/Scopeware. Project X really didn't do anything particularly useful - I installed it, tried the demo links and never used it again.

Project X let you look at maps of web sites. No searching, no files, nothing chronological - the three ideas in Scopeware. Certainly no rewinding through time, no searching through time, no cascading of windows through time - all basic ideas in Scopeware. I can't really see much similarity apart from vague 3D concepts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:H...screenshot.jpg
post #21 of 41
this lawsuit is so dumb... not the time machine one but the iphone and ipod one..
if this is true, all cell phone makers should be sued for listing their txt messages in chronogical order
and all email service providers and all and every companies that list anything in time order at all should be sued.
MS should be sued too. Them themselves should be sued too because Mac had chronological ordering-_-
post #22 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by retroneo View Post

Project X/ Hotsauce wasn't at all like Time Machine/Scopeware. Project X really didn't do anything particularly useful - I installed it, tried the demo links and never used it again.

Project X let you look at maps of web sites. No searching, no files, nothing chronological - the three ideas in Scopeware. Certainly no rewinding through time, no searching through time, no cascading of windows through time - all basic ideas in Scopeware. I can't really see much similarity apart from vague 3D concepts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:H...screenshot.jpg

Organizing chronologically is obvious, the Finder has been able to display lists of files and file icons that way practically from day one. Project X demonstrates viewing web pages (which were just files) in a 3D fashion where you could zoom in or out. A poster above had pointed out that this was one of the unique aspects of this patent. Project X pre-dates the patent application, so they cannot not say the display of the set of files is unique (sure the graphics sucked, but it was over a decade ago!). So I am arguing that there is nothing new or unique in this patent that is not a obvious extension of work that Apple did long before the patent application was submitted.

Plus the fact that the lawsuit was filed in the Tyler District of Texas is further evidence that even the plaintiffs know they don't have a legitimate case!
post #23 of 41
Again, the article shows the journalist's lack of clue in patents, instead of problem with this particular patent.

The patent does not claim "time-based sorting". Please read. It is about interface design (3D) which uses time-based sorting.

As far as I can think of, there was no prior art. As far as I can think of, it WAS not obvious. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of backup software out there, and no single one of them use this type of interface until Time Machine. That is actually pretty strong arguement that it was not obvious.

No, Project X is not prior art. It is not about sorting by time at all, and it does not show the documents. (BTW, it was one of the very cool stuff from Apple, but crashes left and right) Actually, it is not about sorting at all. If you have run it, you would know. Think about space travel (instead of a train of documents) with stars (which are links) around you.

Unlike some of the other patent lawsuits mentioned by AppleInsider, this one has legs and I bet it will settle.

BTW, I guess the iPod/iPhone issue is the CoverFlow.
post #24 of 41
I guess they also have to sue all Movie-Studios and TV stations out there: All have their movie-frames sorted based on time. Of course also all manufacturer of DVD-players (there you can even go back and forth in time)...
post #25 of 41
Wow, that's a serious one. I say Apple should shut should itself down in shame and give the money back to the shareholders.
post #26 of 41
Clearly my considerable shortage of cash at this time stems from the fact that there was so much stuff I didn't patent..

..basically because it seemed so OBVIOUS to me at the time, I really must dig out my prior art for iTunes, Time machine, Hard disc audio recording, manipulation of audio files within a computer based system and concept for movie storage baised on data compression.

from the 70s and 80s

{I'm sure I have more if I went and dug it out}

move to Texas

sue

and then

rule the world with my obvious evil cat!

you gotta hand it to Tim Berners-lee (inventor of the web browser (on a NEXT machine!)) he could have made gazillions but instead chose NOT to be a complete fukking tool and sue everyone in sight for thinking the obvious
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post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by wordwise View Post

"A long time ago in a galaxy far far away...." Look familiar?

Does it for me.

Wasn't the Time Machine interface lifted from the Twilight Zone?
ANd more importantly was the name itself licensed properly from the estate of HG Wells?
post #28 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by zorinlynx View Post

As for time based sorting:

ls -ltr

Hello UNIX, 1980.

I was thinking the same thing, but I think UNIX is at least 10 years older than that .
post #29 of 41
[QUOTE=Wiggin;1230815]Ok all you true Mac gurus out there... Didn't apple have a conceptual 3-D file browser back in the 90s?

Yeah, I even ran it for a while. I think it may have been one of those OpenDoc thingies (like Cyberdog) that was so cool, but which Apple let drop.

The visual part of the patent looks familiar... like flipping through a file drawer.
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post #30 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Organizing chronologically is obvious, the Finder has been able to display lists of files and file icons that way practically from day one. Project X demonstrates viewing web pages (which were just files) in a 3D fashion where you could zoom in or out. A poster above had pointed out that this was one of the unique aspects of this patent. Project X pre-dates the patent application, so they cannot not say the display of the set of files is unique (sure the graphics sucked, but it was over a decade ago!). So I am arguing that there is nothing new or unique in this patent that is not a obvious extension of work that Apple did long before the patent application was submitted.

Plus the fact that the lawsuit was filed in the Tyler District of Texas is further evidence that even the plaintiffs know they don't have a legitimate case!

Hell yeah.

If anyone is interested and has a mid-90's Mac capable of running OpenDoc, I actually have an archived copy of the Project X plug-in for Cyberdog.

Actually, I archived ALL the OpenDoc stuff. Even the ClarisWorks beta built from OpenDoc parts. Cool stuff. Maybe Apple will resurrect it for iPhone... hah hah hah.
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post #31 of 41
These people and their old, unused patents in deep cryostasis. Just waiting for someone to copy their idea so that can (hopefully) make a killing. It's sad, but unfortunately since the government takes most of our money with illegal taxes, I suppose people like this have no choice if they want to make money. Perhaps they should vote for Ron Paul and eliminate the IRS altogether. ;-)
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post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...the patents (1, 2, 3, 4) describe a highly visual system that displays a line of documents and other items dating back (or forward) in time along with the option of searching these items to retrieve and edit them.

Awesome! Somebody actually patented chronological ordering. We really need to get our patent system fixed to end these frivolous lawsuits.
post #33 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqh View Post

The patent does not claim "time-based sorting". Please read. It is about interface design (3D) which uses time-based sorting.

I sense I'm back in 1984 listening to double-speak.
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post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post

Hell yeah.

If anyone is interested and has a mid-90's Mac capable of running OpenDoc, I actually have an archived copy of the Project X plug-in for Cyberdog.

Actually, I archived ALL the OpenDoc stuff. Even the ClarisWorks beta built from OpenDoc parts. Cool stuff. Maybe Apple will resurrect it for iPhone... hah hah hah.

I would love to get a copy of some of that. I played with OpenDoc a lot at Apple.
post #35 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post

I sense I'm back in 1984 listening to double-speak.

Or maybe you need a language lesson.

Just google "apple interface patent", and see which patents about interface Apple has won (or settled).

For example, this is one Apple settled
http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/03/a...rface-lawsuit/

and this is one Apple won
http://www.news.com/2100-1041_3-5210733.html

Get educated on interface please. The Apple iTune patent is not about "playing media files". It is about the interface to play media files.

Let's look at it from different point of view....if Time Machine interface wasn't patented before, Apple should (and probably did file) patent for it, and all the cheerleaders (including me) on AppleInsider will be behind Apple.
post #36 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqh View Post

Again, the article shows the journalist's lack of clue in patents, instead of problem with this particular patent.

The patent does not claim "time-based sorting". Please read. It is about interface design (3D) which uses time-based sorting.

As far as I can think of, there was no prior art. As far as I can think of, it WAS not obvious. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of backup software out there, and no single one of them use this type of interface until Time Machine. That is actually pretty strong arguement that it was not obvious.

No, Project X is not prior art. It is not about sorting by time at all, and it does not show the documents. (BTW, it was one of the very cool stuff from Apple, but crashes left and right) Actually, it is not about sorting at all. If you have run it, you would know. Think about space travel (instead of a train of documents) with stars (which are links) around you.

Unlike some of the other patent lawsuits mentioned by AppleInsider, this one has legs and I bet it will settle.

BTW, I guess the iPod/iPhone issue is the CoverFlow.

Actually, one of the Project X demos I recall showed the cursor zooming through documents sorted by time.

Then, of course, there were the hypercard stacks which were often sorted by time.

So even if you are right that it's a UI patent and not a sorting patent, there's plenty of prior art.
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post #37 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqh View Post

Or maybe you need a language lesson.

Just google "apple interface patent", and see which patents about interface Apple has won (or settled).

For example, this is one Apple settled
http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/03/a...rface-lawsuit/

and this is one Apple won
http://www.news.com/2100-1041_3-5210733.html

Get educated on interface please. The Apple iTune patent is not about "playing media files". It is about the interface to play media files.

Let's look at it from different point of view....if Time Machine interface wasn't patented before, Apple should (and probably did file) patent for it, and all the cheerleaders (including me) on AppleInsider will be behind Apple.


Give it a rest. I wasn't posting on the validity or invalidity of the patent in question. That is an utter waste of time. I was commenting on your botched grammar which self contradicted itself. That was obvious enough I physically winced the first time I read it.

So stop getting so damn uptight about this patent crap, it will never mean a damn thing to a user as Apple has so much damn cash that if needed they can just hostile takeover almost any public company or buy out the creditors of any bankrupt company (with the exception of the gynormous companies who generally leave each other the hell alone in the courtroom). And more likely the case will go away quietly after the lawyers and accountants do their cost benefit analysis on case strategy. Note that that process usually has little or no concern for actual patent validity, just how much the legal fees would be. So why get uptight about it?
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post #38 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post

Give it a rest. I wasn't posting on the validity or invalidity of the patent in question. That is an utter waste of time. I was commenting on your botched grammar which self contradicted itself. That was obvious enough I physically winced the first time I read it.

Dude, you are the one who is getting upset about it.

I comment on most patent articles because I have filed some patents myself, and I have argue for both sides. Feel free to search and see which ones I think are valid and which one I think are bs. You are the one who is contributing nothing to the discussion. So relax.

Regarding OpenDoc, actually I went to the FIRST OpenDoc code retreat Apple hosted, and I still have the T shirt which I got from the retreat. Unfortunately, OpenDoc never got stable.

jragosta,

"Prior art" does not mean "this component and that component has been done before". It is about the whole - unless you can find another app which does exactly the same thing, it is not prior art. Yes, time based sorting was done before. Yes, even time based stack was done before. However, 3D-based fly-by of time-based stack was not done before so there is no prior art.

In patents, prior art is almost never an issue. The argument has always been "obviousness".
post #39 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqh View Post

Dude, you are the one who is getting upset about it.

News to me. Have a happy delusion!
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post #40 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akac View Post

I would love to get a copy of some of that. I played with OpenDoc a lot at Apple.

If you've got an FTP site, I can upload all of it.

There's maybe 40 megs of stuff. I basically, downloaded and archived everything I could find that was OpenDoc at the time. It seems to go up to OpenDoc 1.2 and Cyberdog 2 vintage.

Here's one folder's worth:

Cyberdog 2.0 68k Install.sit
Cyberdog 2.0 PPC Install.sit
Downloader.sea
Install Rapid-I Button Demo
KantaraPartFinder.sit
KantaraWinMenu1.0.sit
OD Calculator 1.0.sit
ODFLibrary 1.2.2.sit
OpenCyberDogURL.sit
OpenDoc1.2 Install.sit
Retriever 1.5.1.sea

Thank the Gods for magneto-optical disks (and a touch of obsessive compulsion)! ;^)
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