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Apple Wins Reversal of $625.5 Million Mirror Worlds Verdict

Apple Inc. (AAPL) won a court ruling that throws out a $625.5 million patent-infringement verdict over how documents are displayed on a computer screen.

A federal judge in Tyler, Texas, today said Apple didn’t infringe a patent owned by Mirror Worlds LLC and closed the case in Apple’s favor. The court also said the damage award was too high. The judge did uphold the validity of the three Mirror Worlds patents.

“Mirror Worlds may have painted an appealing picture for the jury, but it failed to lay a solid foundation sufficient to support important elements it was required to establish under the law,” U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis wrote.

Closely held Mirror Worlds, founded by Yale University computer-science Professor David Gelernter, sued in 2008, claiming Apple’s Mac computers infringed its patents for a way documents are displayed on a computer screen. Apple challenged the validity of the patents and whether they were infringed.

The trial focused on the Spotlight, Time Machine and Cover Flow features in Apple’s Mac operating systems. Cover Flow lets users scroll through album cover art when browsing for music in their iTunes libraries. The feature also works for documents, pictures and other material stored in a computer. Spotlight searches the computer’s hard drive while Time Machine automatically saves copies of files.

The jury on Oct. 1 said Apple was infringing three patents and awarded damages of $208.5 million for each patent. Apple had argued in court papers that the amount was too high and that it was improper to add the damages. Davis agreed, saying “the evidentiary record is insufficient to support the jury’s damage awards” even if the infringement finding had been upheld.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, said the company had no comment. Lawyers for Mirror Worlds didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

The case is Mirror Worlds LLC v. Apple Inc., 08cv88, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Allan Holmes at aholmes25@bloomberg.net

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