A federal judge today reversed a $625.5 million judgement against Apple in a patent infringement lawsuit pertaining to Apple’s Cover Flow feature. The lawsuit was filed by Mirror Worlds, a company founded by Yale professor Dave Gelertner.
“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,” U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis explained in his decision.
In October 2010, Apple found itself on the losing end of a lawsuit over the company’s Cover Flow feature, despite having being granted a patent for the Cover Flow interface in April, 2010. According to Apple, Cover Flow was created by artist Andrew Coulter Enright and Mac Developer Jonathan del Strother. Steve Jobs, who has a penchant for eye candy, quickly purchased the technology in 2006 after seeing it in action. Apple promptly integrated Cover Flow functionality into iTunes 7 which Jobs introduced on September 12, 2006.
Since then, Cover Flow has seeped into all aspects of the Mac and iOS user experience, not to mention nearly every single iPod model sans the Shuffle.. And while we have to wonder just how many people actually browse through their files or music with Cover Flow, there’s no denying that the feature is certainly eye-catching.
Gelertner filed software patents in 1999 outlining software which created streams of documents sorted by time. Gelertner’s lawsuit alleged that Apple’s Cover Flow feature, not to mention Time Machine and Spotlight, all infringed on his patents.
With each patent carrying a $208.5 million penalty, Apple found itself owing Mirror Worlds $625.5 million in damages, which at the time checked in as the fourth largest patent ruling in US history. Apple naturally appealed the ruling, arguing that it was being forced to pay what amounts to one patent violation three times over.
And now, Apple won’t be writing any checks to Mirror World at all. Though Gelertner’s patents were upheld by the court, Judge Davis threw out the $625.5 million damage award and closed the case in Apple’s favor.