Apple Didn’t Infringe Mirror Worlds Patent, Court Rules

Apple Inc. won its appeal of a U.S. patent-infringement verdict related to a Yale University professor’s invention on how documents are displayed on a computer screen.

Apple didn’t infringe patents owned by Mirror Worlds LLC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said today in a ruling posted on its website. The court upheld a lower-court decision that tossed the 2010 jury verdict.

“The evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s finding of infringement for all of the asserted claims,” the appeals court wrote in today’s decision.

Closely held Mirror Worlds, founded by Yale University computer-science Professor David Gelernter, sued in 2008, alleging Apple’s Mac computers infringed its patents. Apple challenged the validity of the patents and whether they were infringed.

The jury said Apple was infringing three patents and awarded damages of $208.5 million for each, for a total of $625.5 million. Apple argued in court papers that the amount was too high and that it was improper to add the damages.

U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis in Tyler, Texas, overturned the October 2010 verdict, saying Apple didn’t infringe a patent and Mirror Worlds had failed to establish its case. The court also said the damage award was too high, while also upholding the validity of the three Mirror Worlds patents.

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 case is Mirror Worlds LLC v. Apple Inc., 11-1392, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The case is Mirror Worlds LLC v. Apple Inc., 08cv88, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).