Apple Faces $625.5 Million Patent-Infringement Judgment

Apple faces a $625.5 million judgment against Mirror Worlds over alleged patent infringement related to Spotlight, Time Machine and Cover Flow, unless it succeeds in an emergency motion.

Apple faces a $625.5 million judgment unless it can win a legal argument against Mirror Worlds, which sued the company in 2008 for alleged patent infringement. Mirror Worlds won its verdict against Apple Oct. 1.

According to Bloomberg, Apple's emergency motion accuses Mirror Worlds of "triple dipping" if it wins $208.5 million for each of the three patents allegedly in dispute. Attorneys for both Apple and Mirror Worlds plan to submit their respective arguments concerning the monetary judgment, with Apple arguing that two of the patents have "outstanding issues" that make them inapplicable.

For its part, the original lawsuit accuses Apple's Mac OS X, mobile devices and personal computers of violating Mirror Worlds' technology for organizing data items such as documents in a "stream." The patents themselves were first filed in 1999 by a Yale computer science professor, David Gelernter, who founded Mirror Worlds. Apple's Spotlight, Time Machine and Cover Flow applications-which allow users to flip through on-screen tiles and documents-are the products apparently at issue.

Bloomberg paraphrases the closing arguments of Apple's chief counsel, Jeffrey Randall, as saying the Mirror Worlds patents had already been sold twice, for a combined total of around $5 million, and weren't worth more.

The case is Mirror Worlds LLC v. Apple Inc., 08cv88, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler). The U.S. District judge hearing the arguments is Leonard Davis, who also presided over i4i's recent patent-infringement case against Microsoft.

Patent-infringement suits against larger companies have a history of being won in that part of the Texas court system. In 2006, Microsoft and Nintendo were ordered to pay $21 million to Anascape, a small IT outfit, for allegedly violating a patent related to game controllers. In July 2009, another tiny company, Tsera, sued Microsoft, Apple and 21 other tech companies over a touch-screen patent.

While patent-infringement cases between large and small companies frequently make the news, much of the tech industry's attention lately has focused on battles between the titans. Microsoft filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Motorola Oct. 1, joining Apple and Oracle in legal attacks against Google's Android operating system.

Microsoft has claimed that Motorola's Android smartphones violate nine patents related to features such as synchronizing e-mail and contacts. The lawsuit mirrors a March one submitted by Apple against HTC, accusing the manufacturer of violating some 20 patents related to the iPhone's interface, architecture and hardware.