Apple Appeals Mirror World Patent Judgement

| News
David Gelertner

David Gelertner
Mirror Worlds Founder

Apple has appealed a judgement handed down against the company in a patent infringement lawsuit launched by Mirror Worlds LLC. The company has asked U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis for an emergency stay, according to Bloomberg, and it is also looking for the judge to modify the monetary award given to Mirror World.

The suit alleged that Apple’s Cover Flow view used in Mac OS X and iOS devices violated three patents owned by Mirror World, and a jury agreed, awarding Mirror Worlds US$208.5 million in damages, damages the company is trying to have apply to each of the patents for a possible award of $625.5 million.

Apple’s appeal includes having the judge toss out the ruling that Cover Flow violates two of the three patents, telling the judge that there were outstanding issues regarding those two patents. The company also told Judge Davis that Mirror Worlds would be triple dipping if the award was applied to each of the patents individually.

In its court filing, Apple wrote, “in light of counsel for Mirror Worlds’ erroneous and objectionable suggestion that, among other things, damages should be cumulative while at the same time suggesting that Mirror Worlds was not ‘triple-dipping.’”

The judge asked both companies to supply arguments relating to that claim, and he said that if he found that either of the patents were not violated that he would reduce the claim accordingly.

Bloomberg also noted that Mirror World was founded by Yale University computer-science Professor David Gelernter, the author of Mirror Worlds: or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox, from whence the name of the company came. He is also the author of Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber, a book about being the target of (and surviving) a Unabomber assassination attempt.

Popular TMO Stories



I’m just an ignorant layman when it comes to the law, but doesn’t it just make sense that if the trial was for infringement of all three patents, cumulatively, that the summary damages awarded to the plaintiff would be compensation for the cumulative infringement of all three patents, not each individual patent. If the latter were the case, then the summary damages awarded should simply be $625.5 million?

On the face of it, this seems to be another case of company A suing company B, long after company B started using whatever was patented, and company A receiving monetary rewards for infringement of patents that they were, in fact, not doing anything with, and therefore could not really have lost money from the infringement of.

Even if Mirror Worlds was doing anything with the patents related to Cover Flow (were they?), were they doing anything related to what Apple was doing with it? Could Apple’s use of the patented concepts actually have cost Mirror Worlds as much as $208.5M, let alone $625.5M?! Let’s say that the suit is purely based on Apple using IP that isn’t there’s to use. How can anybody justly decide that Cover Flow really increased Apple’s revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars, and was therefore an appropriate award for Mirror Worlds?!

It seems to me that 1) Apple’s lawyers have just become incompetent, or 2) The jury should be ashamed of promoting such graft and greed, or 3) Both.

Edit: Yes, I’ve realized that the ‘Cover Flow’ concept is also used a on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, as well as in the Mac OS X Finder. (Who actually uses that view in the Finder, BTW?) However, I still don’t think that Cover Flow is really worth as much as that jury awarded.

Lee Dronick

as well as in the Mac OS X Finder. (Who actually uses that view in the Finder, BTW?)

I use it. Usually in a folder containing graphic files.


as well as in the Mac OS X Finder. (Who actually uses that view in the Finder, BTW?)

I do NOT. I find it very cumbersome. Actually I didn’t realize that it was an option in Finder, just made sure to turn it off in iTunes.

Lee Dronick

Let me clarify. I don’t use Cover Flow all of the time. If they are my graphics, or other type of files, I will give them an appropriately descriptive name and I can pick it out of a list or via a search.

However, when someone gives me a series of JPGs named IMG0000001 though IMG0001891 I may use Cover Flow to scroll through and chose the ones I need. I may also press the space bar and then use the up/down arrows to scroll through.


Without commenting on the merits of this case, with which I’m not familiar, or the job Apple’s lawyers did, with which I’m not familiar, Texas is famous as a strongly pro-plaintiff state for patent litigation. Patent plaintiffs try their best to bring their lawsuits in Texas (this is called “forum shopping”), and defendants try just as hard to have cases moved elsewhere. Often, defendants are not successful in having their cases moved.


So Apple admits violating the patent, but not 2 of the other related patents…hmmm.

Personally, coverflow is eye candy to me, I have NEVER used it mainly because there are faster ways to access anything - namely list view by date (or size/type etc), or images by thumbnail(s) view. It’s neat, but it doesn’t define the Mac OS to me. Maybe it more defines the iOS world, but not my Mac experience.


The issue was bigger than coverflow.  The heart was Spotlight.  I use spotlight all the time.  Coverflow, Spotlight and the use of coverflow as an interface is central to the Mac experience.

Aren’t we all missing the point here.  If you have a patent on an idea it is protected.  If that is not the case what is all the iP griping about China stealing ideas worth?  The only difference is that in the US we have courts of law.

Outside of corporate America it is called robbery.  Imagine the argument of the bank robber:” Well the bank wasn’t using all that cash…it was just sitting there”.  If guilty Apple should pay.  Oh, or they could strip it out of all their software right?

We may not like trial lawyers and court shopping but that is the way of the system…at least until politicians change it….hmmm, go against the trial lawyers…won’t happen in my lifetime.


What was Bryan Chafin referrring to when he said,

“Despite the fact that many of the concepts were in use in Apple?s Hypercard product years before the patents were filed, a jury ruled in favor of Mirror Worlds.”

What was Hypercard?s version of this CoverFlow-ish technology, and why was it not pertinent as discrediting prior art against Mirror Worlds? claims in the Texas (kangaroo) court?

Why can?t Apple use this to sue Mirror Worlds for infringement of Apple?s (Hypercard?s) utility patent and to have Mirror Worlds’ utility patent invalidated?

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account