Apple Challenging $625.5 Million Verdict

By Cindy Waxer October 05, 2010

Mirror Worlds is hoping to take a bite out of Apple with a lawsuit that could make the multinational giant liable for $625.5 million.

A jury in Texas has ordered Apple to pay the staggering amount for violating three patents owned by Mirror Worlds, a firm founded by David Gelernter, a Yale University computer science professor.

But Apple isn’t taking the news lying down. The company is challenging the verdict from the federal court in Tyler, Texas, saying the court has not yet looked at some of its counterclaims. In an emergency motion, Apple has asked the court to stay the decision until a formal decision is handed down.

The patents in dispute relate to Mirror Worlds’ “Document Stream Operating System,” where documents are stored in “one or more chronologically ordered streams,” according to documents filed in the case. The patents overlap with Mac features such as Cover Flow, which allows users to skim through the cover art of MP3 files as if they were pages in a book. Another overlapping characteristic is Time Machine, which performs automatic backups.

The court found Apple liable for both accidental and willful infringement on three patents owned by Mirror Worlds. According to Bloomberg News, the $625.5 million award is the second-biggest jury verdict in 2010, and the fourth-biggest patent verdict in U.S. history. The largest this year, for $677 million against nursing home company Skilled Healthcare Group, later settled for $50 million.

Tyler, Texas is no stranger to patent disputes. The town, known for its speedy trials, has been widely criticized for a perceived bias towards plaintiffs in patent infringement lawsuits, including patent trolls who specifically acquire patents in order to seek payment for companies they claim are infringing on those patents. In fact, in 2003, there were 14 patent cases filed in Tyler. By 2004, the number more than quadrupled to 59 patent cases filed. In 2006, the number of cases skyrocketed to an estimated 236.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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