In what may have been intended as a flambouyant exercise of bureaucratic irony, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted Apple a design patent for Cover Flow, one week after the company was found guilty of violating someone else’s patents for the very same technology.
Apple was granted design patent D624,932, a very undescriptive patent where the images do all the talking, with the (sort of, but not really much of an) exception of this closing sentence: “The appearance of the transitional image sequentially transitions between the images shown in FIGS. 1 through 9 and FIGS. 10 through 18, respectively. The process or period in which one image transitions to another image forms no part of the claimed design.”
The image below shows figures 10, 11, 12, and 13, which demonstrate Cover Flow in action.
The timing of this patent being granted to Apple couldn’t be more fraught with intrigue due to the lawsuit brought against the company by Mirror Worlds, LLC which alleged that Apple was violating patents that company owned by using Cover Flow on iOS devices and the Mac.
A jury in East Texas found that Apple had violated those patents and awarded Mirror Worlds US$208.5 million, damages that could be applied to all three patents for a possible total of $624.5 million. Apple is appealing the award and asking a Federal judge to overturn the verdict on two of the patents.
So, will this new design patent play a role in the appeals process? We’ll have to wait and see, but as one attorney told The Mac Observer, “it certainly can’t hurt Apple’s case, and may help it a great deal.”
PatentlyApple was the first to note today’s Cover Flow patent.