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Apple asked to pay over $200M in loss of Mirror Worlds case

updated 01:40 pm EDT, Mon October 4, 2010

Cover Flow, Time Machine cited as patent breakers

Apple is being ordered to pay at least $208.5 million in damages after losing a lawsuit to a company called Mirror Worlds, reports say. The latter party has accused Apple of violating multiple patents: three describing a "document stream operating system," and a fourth showing an information management system based on the document streams. The concepts involved are said to be nearly identical to those employed by Apple's Cover Flow and Time Machine.

While one of the patent claims was tossed out earlier this year, the Mirror Worlds case is unusual in that it otherwise survived to trial. Most such lawsuits are either dismissed or settled out of court, as corporations like Apple are eager to avoid the effort and expense of a prolonged battle. The trial was handled through the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, however, which is infamous for finding in favor of plaintiffs in patent cases.

Apple has yet to respond to requests for comment. Mirror Worlds founder David Gelernter has also refused to say much on the matter, except that he is "tremendously grateful" to his lawyers. It is also unclear whether the penalty applies to all three patents together, or each individually.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Marook

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Didn't Apple BUY Cover Flow from a company?? So they bought something that was not theirs??

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Why are the inbred hicks in East Texas allowed to

    Why is it legal to pick the jurisdiction of your choice when filling a suit when neither the defendant or plaintiff are located there? Shouldn't the defendant be allowed to be judged by their peers?

  1. dogzilla

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    I read the book "Mirror Worlds" by David Gelertner about 20 years ago. While he does describe data in "piles", I don't recall anything really similar to the modern-day implementation of coverflow in it. Then again, I'm not a lawyer. What I am is tremendously disappointed in David Gelertner, as he had always been one of my computing heroes. But 20 years without turning his idea into a viable product and then enforcing a software patent to act as a gatekeeper corporation on an idea that it's doubtful he can lay claim to is very disappointing.

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Messed Up

    Yet another demonstration of why software patents are a completely broken system. Not to mention the places in which the US legal system fails abysmally--the simple fact that nearly every patent lawsuit takes place in a single, obscure jurisdiction, should indicate that there's something fundamentally wrong with the system.

    Heck, I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn some day that the judges (or someone else) in that area were taking hefty kickbacks from patent lawyers or something.

    Regardless, while I could understand the payout for Time Machine or Spotlight search patents being hefty--they're powerful systems that do a lot--how the heck do you award tens or hundreds of millions of dollars for Coverflow? It may be pervasive in Apple products, but it's not exactly fundamental to their operation or appeal, nor does it do much. And of course now exactly the same browser is used everywhere--I've seen it on websites, games, etc...

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    And the Patent-Circle Jerk...


  1. jdonahoe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    For $200 million Apple should stay in court

    For $200 million Apple should stay in court and maybe counter sue for pain and suffering. Just outlast the greedy b****** lawyers.

    I'm thinking of patenting the idea that money grows on trees and then waiting a few years for our currency to be changed to paper and then sue the government for violating my patent. I can see it now, money for nothin....

  1. driven

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Stifles innovation

    If I had the talent to invent something, I doubt I'd bother right now. You just sit around waiting for someone to sue you over an insane old patent.

    This country is going to rot if this isn't fixed. (Oh wait, it already is.)

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