Patent troll targets Apple's Safari, Cover Flow and Time Machine UIs in new lawsuit

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2015
In a new patent lawsuit with the Northern California District Court on Tuesday, so-called "patent troll" TriDim Innovations claims Apple infringed two 3D user interface patents with Safari for iOS 7 and iOS 8, Cover Flow and Time Machine.

Safari 4
Cover Flow as seen in Safari 4.0.


TriDim, a patent holding firm, is asserting two patents against Apple, claiming it has suffered and continues to suffer damages through distribution and sale of iOS 7 and iOS 8 devices running Safari, as well as various implementations of Cover Flow and Time Machine. The suit was spotted by MacRumors on Wednesday.

According to the filing, Apple willfully infringed on U.S. Patents No. 5,838,326 and No. 5,847,709, both of which cover three-dimensional user interface workspaces similar to Apple's Cover Flow. The inventions were filed for in 1996 and subsequently assigned to Xerox in 1998.

Plaintiffs argue that Apple had knowledge of the '326 patent from at least 2009, when it filed for its own patents covering similar display technology. Further, the suit notes Apple has cited the '326 patent as prior art in 23 inventions relating to the Cover Flow interface.

As for the '709 patent, Apple supposedly knew about that particular invention from at least August 2014, as evidenced in another disclosure covering a patent for Safari.


Illustration of TriDim's 3D user workspace. | Source: USPTO


This is the second time Apple has been sued for its use of Cover Flow and, as an extension, Time Machine. In 2008, a firm called Mirror Worlds brought suit against the Cupertino tech giant in Southern Texas, a court jurisdiction known to be patent owner-friendly.

Mirror Worlds won an initial $625.5 million ruling in 2010, but Apple successfully appealed and in 2012 had the verdict tossed.

Apple took on legal responsibility for Cover Flow after purchasing the technology from a small software company called Steel Skies in 2006. The feature was originally implemented as a way for iOS device users to browse through collections of iTunes music using multitouch. Apple later ported the function to Safari, but discontinued the rarely used viewing option in OS X Mavericks with the introduction of Safari 7.0.

TriDim is seeking a trial for undetermined damages, lawyer fees and post-judgment interest, as well as an injunction against further use of the IP described in the two patents.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,835member
    Great picture by the way. I remember well sitting with my teeth clenched watching that great moment, totally convinced some racist loony would take a shot.
  • Reply 2 of 14
    if apple does loose and is forced to pay a certain amount, can they pull a samsung and just not pay?
  • Reply 3 of 14
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,424member

    If Apple hadn't cited the plaintiff's patents in its own patent applications, not only would that have been stupid, it could have landed Apple in trouble with the government. Since Apple was granted a patent on Cover Flow, the patent examiner clearly thought Cover Flow was distinctive and inventive.

  • Reply 4 of 14
    3D user workspace huh?
    Microsoft had that covered well before 1998.
    [IMG]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/54570/width/200/height/400[/IMG]
  • Reply 5 of 14
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,061member
    It is astounding how ugly and crowded the old iTunes interface now looks compared to Yosemite's iTunes.
  • Reply 6 of 14
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    Great picture by the way. I remember well sitting with my teeth clenched watching that great moment, totally convinced some racist loony would take a shot.

     I'm glad you got past that lunacy.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AnalogJack View Post



    It is astounding how ugly and crowded the old iTunes interface now looks compared to Yosemite's iTunes.



    Is that a joke? Yosemite's iTunes is much more difficult to navigate.

  • Reply 7 of 14

    I actually miss the old iTunes cover flow.  It was like having a juke box with all the album art, I really dug it. 

  • Reply 8 of 14
    I've read through both patents at issue and there's nothing in them that could possibly be construed to be infringed by any of the software that they list that Apple is using. First of all, their rudimentary 3D isn't. If appears they were attempting to create another Graphical User Interface. . . but most of the metaphors had been used before. The one possible unique thing was the ability of the use to add new parts to the metaphor. . . but that is obvious, like adding a new folder.

    There were "Room" metaphors before such as Microsoft Bob. . . and others for as diverse operating systems as AmigaOS, Atari, the Commodore-C64 and C-128, even the Macintosh, and a lot of their data maneuvering seems to have been borrowed heavily from Apple's Hypercard Stacks of the 1980s.

    it is possible they are basing their complaint against Safari in iOS because the user can create new tabs. . . there-by "infringing" their patent by adding new "rooms", but that would be a HUGE stretch of logic. I can find no other claim for them to hang their hats on. CoverFlow looks as if they are basing their claim on the fact they have flowing side-to-side navigation through "streets" with "buildings" that users can enter to find more "rooms" with "shelves" of "books" and "documents" and other things to do. This horizontal scrolling may be what they think they have a patent right to. . . ignoring the horizontal scrolling that was prior art in many other applications that existed prior to their application for the patent. Same for the front-to-back scrolling of TimeMachine.
  • Reply 9 of 14
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    I actually miss the old iTunes cover flow.  It was like having a juke box with all the album art, I really dug it. 

    Same here.
    In fact it odd that you can still navigate Yosemite folders in cover flow but not ITunes where it's needed most.
    And you still can't park it to the dock by double clicking the top border - a major flaw.
  • Reply 10 of 14
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,378member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Swordmaker View Post



    I've read through both patents at issue and there's nothing in them that could possibly be construed to be infringed by any of the software that they list that Apple is using. First of all, their rudimentary 3D isn't. If appears they were attempting to create another Graphical User Interface. . . but most of the metaphors had been used before. The one possible unique thing was the ability of the use to add new parts to the metaphor. . . but that is obvious, like adding a new folder.



    There were "Room" metaphors before such as Microsoft Bob. . . and others for as diverse operating systems as AmigaOS, Atari, the Commodore-C64 and C-128, even the Macintosh, and a lot of their data maneuvering seems to have been borrowed heavily from Apple's Hypercard Stacks of the 1980s.



    it is possible they are basing their complaint against Safari in iOS because the user can create new tabs. . . there-by "infringing" their patent by adding new "rooms", but that would be a HUGE stretch of logic. I can find no other claim for them to hang their hats on. CoverFlow looks as if they are basing their claim on the fact they have flowing side-to-side navigation through "streets" with "buildings" that users can enter to find more "rooms" with "shelves" of "books" and "documents" and other things to do. This horizontal scrolling may be what they think they have a patent right to. . . ignoring the horizontal scrolling that was prior art in many other applications that existed prior to their application for the patent. Same for the front-to-back scrolling of TimeMachine.



    These suits are ridiculous.  Streets and buildings?    How about the very first edition of "Castle Wolfenstein" in the early 1980s on an Apple ][?    Horizontal navigation?   I was responsible for publishing a dinosaur game that had horizontal navigation on an Apple ][ also in the early 1980s.   As far as I'm concerned, concepts such as rooms, streets, horizontal navigation and geometric views of objects are all "obvious" and shouldn't be patentable, although the methods for generating them on a display might be patentable.   While the reflection view as used in Cover Flow is a bit more unique, I don't even think that should be patentable.   

  • Reply 11 of 14
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,455member

    Thought the cover flow concept was around in jukeboxes in some manner since the 50's, 60's, 70's, etc.

  • Reply 12 of 14
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

     



    These suits are ridiculous.  Streets and buildings?    How about the very first edition of "Castle Wolfenstein" in the early 1980s on an Apple ][?    Horizontal navigation?   I was responsible for publishing a dinosaur game that had horizontal navigation on an Apple ][ also in the early 1980s.   As far as I'm concerned, concepts such as rooms, streets, horizontal navigation and geometric views of objects are all "obvious" and shouldn't be patentable, although the methods for generating them on a display might be patentable.   While the reflection view as used in Cover Flow is a bit more unique, I don't even think that should be patentable.   




    Most patents, software or hardware, should be tossed on the grounds that they are obvious. Every bloody day, I hear of a "patent" on an idea some guy in the company suggested at some point in the previous years. Techniques should be patentable. Bloody ideas? Nope.

  • Reply 13 of 14
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

     



    These suits are ridiculous.  Streets and buildings?    How about the very first edition of "Castle Wolfenstein" in the early 1980s on an Apple ][?    Horizontal navigation?   I was responsible for publishing a dinosaur game that had horizontal navigation on an Apple ][ also in the early 1980s.   As far as I'm concerned, concepts such as rooms, streets, horizontal navigation and geometric views of objects are all "obvious" and shouldn't be patentable, although the methods for generating them on a display might be patentable.   While the reflection view as used in Cover Flow is a bit more unique, I don't even think that should be patentable.   




    Have you read the claims of the patent? Determining patent infringement is pretty difficult and requires a lot of training.  You can't just read the description of the invention and determine whether a product infringes or not.  This is the problem with lay people chiming in about the validity or infringement of a patent. Unless you are a patent attorney or have been trained to analyze claims by a patent attorney, you probably don't have a clue whether something is or should be patentable or infringed. 

  • Reply 14 of 14
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

     



    Most patents, software or hardware, should be tossed on the grounds that they are obvious. Every bloody day, I hear of a "patent" on an idea some guy in the company suggested at some point in the previous years. Techniques should be patentable. Bloody ideas? Nope.




    Indeed, an idea is not patentable and the patent office doesn't grant patents on ideas.  People in the media and on blogs just accuse people of patenting ideas, but they usually do it without even reading or understanding the claims of the patent. I haven't read the claims of this patent, but I'm willing to bet it describes a method or a user interface, not an idea.

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