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

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 130
    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?
  • Reply 2 of 130
    rainrain Posts: 538member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 130
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 130
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 130
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Frankly, I think apple could drop CoverFlow completely and no one would notice.
  • Reply 6 of 130
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,756member
    Pay off the obvious patent troll and move on. Problem solved.
  • Reply 7 of 130
    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?
  • Reply 8 of 130
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,664member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 130
    shobizshobiz Posts: 207member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 130
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 130
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 130
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,664member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 130
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 130
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 130
    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...
  • Reply 16 of 130
    shobizshobiz Posts: 207member
    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)
  • Reply 17 of 130
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,664member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 130
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,664member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 130
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,595member
    Let's just give east texas back to its rightful owner - Mexico.
  • Reply 20 of 130
    davendaven Posts: 635member
    Go figure... Tyler, Texas. Land of the inbreds.
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