By court order this week, Apple will have to fork over a little more than $200 million to Mirror Worlds, LLC after losing a case involving patent infringement. Apple was ruled to be in violation of "document streaming" patents that belonged to Mirror Worlds, which happen to be a little too similar to the design and implementation of Apple's Cover Flow and Time Machine.
This lawsuit came about in 2008 when Mirror Worlds accused Apple of infringing on four patents, one involving information management systems and the other three based on a "document stream operating system".
For more on the ruling, follow the break.
For anyone that has used Cover Flow or Time Machine, you know that the visual layout of the system is displaying items in a pile that you can scroll through. That's exactly how the document stream is outlined in the patents - 'many different types of documents with a similar theme, and would be organized in chronological order and displayed in a pile'.
The case went to trial in east Texas, where a federal jury ruled in favor of Mirror Worlds on three of the four patents in questions, with the fourth being thrown out of the courts earlier this year. Bloomberg has reported that David Gelertner, Mirror Worlds' founder, was 'tremendously grateful' for his lawyers' performances, but nobody has yet commented on the ruling.
For Apple, $200 million is nothing, but it must be a little bothersome for them. Apple's been designing things like this back when they called computers Macintoshes. It all but further blurs the line between patent infringement and product innovation and improvement.