Apple Click Wheel Patent Infringement Costs Apple $3.3 Million in Japan

A Japanese court has ruled that the Click Wheel in Apple's iPod Classic infringes on a patent owned by Norihiko Saito and has ordered the company to pay Y330 million (about US$3,334,650) in damages. Mr. Saito filed his lawsuit against Apple in 2007 and was originally asking for Y10 billion (about $101,050,000) in damages -- a figure the court didn't agree with.

Apple hit with $3.3 million in Japanese patent infringement suitApple hit with $3.3 million in Japanese patent infringement suit

Mr. Saito claimed Apple's Click Wheel design, which allows an iPod user to navigate and select songs one-handed, copied from his patented design. He had been negotiating with Apple in in hopes of settling the lawsuit but chose to push up his damages request to Y10 billion when he wasn't able to reach a deal he liked, according to Dow Jones Business News.

The Click Wheel was a familiar sight on Apple's iPod product line for several years before the company transitioned to primarily touch-based interfaces for its mobile product lineup. The traditional Click Wheel is still available on the iPod Classic, which is also the only hard drive-based media player in Apple's product line, and the iPod shuffle's controls look similar to the Click Wheel without offering true Click Wheel functionality.

The damages order is still waiting the final ruling in the case, so once that's handled Apple will either have to pay the Y330 million or convince the court to change its mind.

Apple hasn't commented on the case, and presumably Mr. Saito is disappointed that the court decided the damages he was owed comes in well below the Y10 billion he wanted.