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Apple wins appeal in Cover Flow, Time Machine patent disputes

Quote:
Apple won't have to shell out $625.5 million to a company called Mirror Worlds after all thanks to a new ruling in a Cover Flow patent dispute. A federal judge said on Monday that while Mirror Worlds' patents were still valid, Apple didn't infringe on them when developing Cover Flow, Time Machine, and Spotlight on the Mac.

Mirror Worlds brought the lawsuit against Apple in 2008, accusing the company of infringing on four patents, three of which covered a "document stream operating system." The fourth patent extended the other three, describing an information management system based on the document streams.

Apple lost the first round in late 2010‚??a jury in the Eastern Texas US District Court agreed that Apple had infringed on three of Mirror Worlds' four patents (the fourth had been tossed out earlier in the year), resulting in $208.5 million in damages per patent violation. Apple appealed the decision, resulting the judge's decision to reverse the ruling.

(Fun fact: longtime Ars readers may remember that an Ars forum member named Catfish originally developed Cover Flow back in 2005 as a free add-on to iTunes in Mac OS X. Apple bought the technology in 2006 and integrated it into iTunes 7.0, released in September of that year.)

Apple had argued in its appeal that Mirror Worlds' failed to acknowledge prior art in its own filings with the US Patent Office, and that the patents themselves weren't filed properly. US District Judge Leonard Davis didn't buy this argument and upheld Mirror Worlds' patents. He did say, however, that Mirror Worlds didn't present sufficient evidence that Apple had used all the same methods in its own technologies, therefore releasing Apple from liability.

"No matter how attractive a party paints the facade of its case, it is worthless without the requisite foundational support," reads the ruling. "In this case, Mirror Worlds may have painted an appealing picture for the jury, but it failed to lay a solid foundation sufficient to support important elements it was required to establish under the law. Accordingly, the Court rejects Mirror Worlds‚?? case as to infringement and damages, while affirming it as to validity and inequitable conduct."

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