Skip to comments.Apple loses patent-infringement trial over Cover Flow, Time Machine
Posted on 10/03/2010 1:46:58 AM PDT by Swordmaker
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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I just purchased an IMAC all in one and I love it.
So I loaded up one of my older iPods with 120GB of music and have it permanently stored in the car - I might never need to use the CD player again!
Also, because the iPod is hardwired into the stereo system, the sound is exceptional. Far superior to the wireless FM transmitter solution I had earlier where you had to tune the FM station to something like 88.3MHz and deal with static all the time.
In 1993, Gelernter was critically injured opening a mailbomb sent by Theodore Kaczynski, who at that time was an unidentified but violent opponent of technology, dubbed by the press as "the Unabomber". He recovered from his injuries but his right hand and eye were permanently damaged. He chronicled the ordeal in his 1997 book Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber.
It’s also a completely different purpose. This organizes your life, your current documents by time, kind of like an individual window version of simply clicking the top of the Time column in Windows Explorer. Time Machine is a backup and restore utility that organizes by time.
Time Machine is truly amazing. It's the best backup system I have ever used. And the easiest to set up.
That's because the broadcast people lobbied the FCC to reduce the transmit power of those devices to nearly useless levels.
A lot of them implement the power reduction via a "pi" network. If you know what you are doing, you can take it apart and remove the shunt elements and short out the series element and get a tremendous improvement in quality. (and be breaking the law)
Time Machine’s even more amazing when you know the technical side of how it works. Really cool for a computer geek.
Well, I do know that TimeMachine uses hard links to reference files and folders that have not changed since the previous backup. That saves a tremendous amount of space on the backup disk.
Are patent cases more “favorable” to patent claimees in the Tyler area because of stupid jury members?
Where is the lawsuit against any computer company for someone claiming to have patented the use of a keyboard to input data into a computer or other electronic device?
Our patent system is as out-of-wack as our current administration...
Having an out-of-wack administration won't fix it anytime soon.
You’re pretty close. It just backs up everything every hour, meaning hard links for everything, but only copies the data (and points the hard link to it) if the file has changed or is new. Otherwise, the hard link points to the last previous backup. That’s how it looks like you’re looking at your whole file system. As you know, Spotlight keeps track of all your files for searching, but Time Machine also leverages Spotlight to find out which files have changed or been added. Ars Technica had a very in-depth article on this a while back. I can dig it up if you want.
Stupid juries and favorable judges who push through cases very quickly. A whole patent lawsuit industry has sprung up around there, with a huge number of LLCs incorporated in the area, patents assigned to them, that sue companies. That way if there is only an empty shell company to take the consequences of any losses.
What's surprising about this one is that the plaintiff is a real company.
The first thing we need though is to tighten down venue. Any company can sue any other company that does any business in that district, and that effectively means any company that sells nation-wide. Mirror World has offices in NYC and New Haven CT, and Apple has its headquarters in Cupertino. The law needs to be changed so that one of those places must be the venue for the suit, no more venue shopping, and no incorporating an LLC in TX for the sole purpose of getting the venue there to sue.
Yeah, that sucks. When you're out in the middle of nowhere, it works o.k., because you can find dead air, but in large cities, you're kinda screwed. What would be cool, is if we had one clear FM frequency across the country that could be used for this type of application. Unfortunately, since it wouldn't make any money to the government in licensing fees, it's not going to happen.
I think it's more the local judges that influence this more than the juries. Of course, juries aren't always the best judge of sticky technical details. I'd be really interested though in reading what kind of instructions are given by these judges.
The level of award has been revealed and is in a FR article over here:
I just did a search. Is it this one?
Could it be improved in the future by doing backups at the block-level rather than the file-level? Yes, that would be good for very large files. But in the meantime, this is a great backup system with easy setup, use, and great interface.
Time Machine is great. And no doubt it will only get better in the future.
That's the article. Block-level would be great and let me use it to back up my VMWare virtual hard drives, which I exclude now because it would mean a 10-30 GB backup every time I started a VM. Messing with block-level is a great thing about ZFS and would allow this, but Apple's experiment with ZFS seems to have stalled for some reason.
I suspect that has something to do with Oracle now owning Sun Microsystems. ZFS has a specific type of open source license. If Oracle can sue someone over a small legal issue, they will.
At one time I had high hopes for ReiserFS, which is mentioned in the article. With Hans Reiser's unfortunate change in living quarters, I don't see any future now for it.
As far as I know Apple owns HFS+. They will probably extend it or develop something of their own.
I hate Cover Flow==what does it do?? it just gets me frustrated and I have to shake the iPhone back to portrait so I can use the iPod toggles