Apple Wins Patent Dispute Against Mirror Worlds After U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Back in 2008, Mirror Worlds LLC accused Apple of patent infringement for its Cover Flow, Spotlight, and Time Machine technologies. While the initial jury ruled against Apple and levied a fine of $625.5 million, a later appeal in federal court saw the ruling reversed.

    Following further appeal by Mirror Worlds, the dispute made it to the Supreme Court, which today left the federal judgement in place after refusing to hear the case, reports Bloomberg.
    With the Supreme Court declining to hear the case, Apple's victory against Mirror Worlds will stand and the company will not be required to pay the $625 million fine.

    Article Link: Apple Wins Patent Dispute Against Mirror Worlds After U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 20, 2012
    Sucks to be that guy... Unless, of course, his lawsuit was complete BS. I don't know.
  3. macrumors regular


    Jul 16, 2009
    Wow poor guy! Disabled by the Unibomber, failed company, now this...
  4. macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2011
    I guess the Supreme Court is as tired of these Apple lawsuits as we are.
  5. macrumors 601


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire
    Actually, the Supreme Court doesn't rule on many of the cases that it receives.
  6. macrumors 6502


    Jul 25, 2010
    There are lots of cases that the Supreme Court doesn't bother to hear. Most patent cases are just wastes of money.
  7. JGRE, Jun 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    Oct 10, 2011
    Dutch Mountains
    Mirror Worlds Technologies, Inc. was a company based in New Haven, Connecticut, which created software using ideas from the book Mirror Worlds: or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox...How It Will Happen and What It Will Mean (1992) by Yale professor David Gelernter, who helped found the company with Eric Freeman and served as chief scientist. Gelernter believed that computers can free users from being filing clerks by organizing their data. The company's main product, Scopeware, was released in March 2001 and attempted to organize a user's files into time-based "streams" and make such data more easily accessible across networks and a variety of devices. The company saw few sales, and announced it would "cease operations effective May 15, 2004".

    Although they might have actually invented something, there now nothing more than a Patent Troll.
  8. macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2009
    This is great. The $600M+ damages was ridiculous. That is in the same neighborhood as Samsung was fined for completely and blatantly ripping off Apple's technology to build the Galaxy S and Galaxy S2.

    This actually reduces those damages to zero.
  9. macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    It's a bit sketchy that it took him almost two years to get around to suing Apple (leaving aside that Apple bought Cover Flow from another company, so he would have had to ignore that company, as well), but at least he sued more quickly than most patent trolls and did, originally, invent something.

    Still, at this point is Mirror Worlds doing anything other than trolling with some good ideas of the past?
  10. macrumors 68000


    Sep 8, 2011
    Boston, MA
    You must have a very broad definition of patent troll. I thought the idea of a patent troll was someone who purchased patents only to use them in litigation. I'm pretty sure that an inventor of the technology cannot, per se, be a patent troll. Otherwise, all Universities are patent trolls for example.
  11. macrumors 68030

    Amazing Iceman

    Nov 8, 2008
    Florida, U.S.A.
    They can't be considered Patent Trolls, as they actually invented and produced something with their invention. The fact that it didn't succeed doesn't mean their invention was bad. It simply didn't stick at that time. There are so many factors that could influence a great patent to succeed or fail, regardless of how great it is.

    In their case, it could have been the GUI, the cost, the DB backend, disaster recovery, etc. Who knows... there are so many things to consider.

    I certainly hope the Supreme Court had a very good reason for dismissing the case.
  12. macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2011
    1 Down

    495,631 patent lawsuits to go...
  13. macrumors regular

    Oct 2, 2009
    Their "patent" was on the how documents get displayed on the screen.
    They released a product in 2001 that organize files in a timeline fashion and discounting in 2004.
    That was "it" from them...

    When a "company" doesn't even have a website in the year 2013.They are not a company..
    They are patent trolls.

    The "inventor" doesn't even own his patents.
    BTW Network-1 company(Patent Troll) purchased all of Mirror Worlds patents...for 3 million dollars,lol
  14. macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2004
    That's pretty much the common definition of patent troll.
    (Since that company doesn't seem to produce anything other than patent law suits.)
  15. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2013
  16. macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    That's somewhat debatable. A lot of patent trolls work with IP that was originally used for something, but has been sitting on the shelf for years gathering dust until a company produces something profitable enough, and similar enough, to warrant a shakedown.

    In this case, the patent in question has been sold not once, but twice, so it's not exactly some kindly professor getting gypped out of his retirement funds, either (he got $210K for it, and whoever bought it last paid $5M).

    Further, the $600M was at the time the fourth-largest patent award in US history--on the 3D representation of Cover Flow, Time Machine, and Spotlight searches, none of which are exactly central or mission-critical features. That was rather ridiculous as an award right from the start.
  17. macrumors 6502

    Oct 10, 2011
    Dutch Mountains
    Well, they are not making any use of the patent themselves, they are only trying getting some (very much) money out of it by annoying others. In this respect they are no different from a patent troll.
  18. macrumors 68000

    Apr 24, 2006
    With the sheer volume of cases that appeal to the Supreme Court each year (thousands), they only take those which have a very good reason for them to hear. This generally means that only cases which have had multiple district appeals courts produce differing results are heard by the Supreme Court, though there are exceptions.
  19. macrumors 65816

    Mar 13, 2006
    wait a minute. all three are features that apple hyped quite a lot and were both the key additions and highlights (at least for the masses) to their respective os versions

    you cant rewrite history there.

    further more what exactly does "central or mission-critical" even mean? we are still talking about an os that most people use for facebook, spreadsheeting and porn right and not nasa?

    i also recall that when coverflow first popped up by a third party developer (who apple later bought or hired. innovation at its best) that mirror world was referenced as the ones who thought of first brought out this idea
  20. macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    I have no interest one way or another in the result here, but HOW it happens does irritate me. Frankly, I think the whole US Court system is a load of horse manure. You think you won a case, but NO.... someone overturns it...and overturns it again and again and again and again.... WTF!?!? In criminal cases where you've won your innocence, that's called DOUBLE JEOPARDY and it's illegal (as it should be). I can understand appeals the other way around since we've proven jury trials get it wrong more often than anyone should be comfortable with, but I don't see why civil cases should be allowed to just flip-flop for years and years and years (I realize only one flip-flop is mentioned here, but I've seen cases where it happens multiple times).

    It's like WHY EVEN BOTHER to have lower courts when what they say doesn't mean jack and will just get appealed and appealed and appealed? It just wastes time and money. It also shows that apparently judges at various levels are seemingly incompetent since someone else just overturns it. And even WHEN the Supreme Court WILL hear a case, how many of those are voted 5/4 or 4/5??? And THAT determines people or companies' fates? It's a TOTAL CROCK.

    If they can't get some kind of actual consensus about something, then it should be 100% legal every time (i.e. the idea in criminal cases that if there's ANY reasonable doubt what-so-ever, then they should go free). I don't see why civil cases should be any different and I don't see how you can be found not guilty in a criminal case and then found guilty in a civil one (e.g. OJ Simpson trial). THAT is an even bigger travesty. It 100% contradicts the previous trial. That should also be considered double jeopardy since you can't be guilty in a civil case of murder and simultaneously not guilty in a criminal case by pure LOGIC alone. Either you did it or you didn't. There's no "BOTH" except in a movie with time travel paradoxes.
  21. macrumors 68000


    Sep 8, 2011
    Boston, MA
    For full disclosure, I'm a student striving to become a patent attorney. I'm not at all pro patent trolls; there are some companies out there which do not benefit society or technology at all and are only out for shakedowns. However, it cannot be considered a bad thing for anyone to assert their patents if they are doing it rightfully.

    In this case, it sounds like Mirror Worlds was wrong to bring the suit. Still, it shouldn't be assumed default every patent case is brought by patent trolls.

    Wow... where do I start? Lets try the difference between criminal and civil court. In criminal court, the government is accusing someone, and they stand to face a punishment which harms their liberty in some way (their freedom or their purse usually). To make it difficult, we make it hard for the government to do that and give them a really high hurdle. In civil court, private parties accuse eachother, and they stand to just lose some money. When only money is involved, the standard doesn't have to be as high, and it varies depending on specifics.

    OJ wasn't found guilty or anything in civil court, he was found liable for a death. Murder (criminal) and wrongful death (civil) are two very very different things. Wrongful death can be simply negligent (for example, you spilled some oil in your house that you didn't clean up, and then a guest slipped and fell and died.) For wrongful death, the liable person must repay someone, usually the familly, for the wrong. Murder is the highest form of homicide, it's only for someone who is really super culpable and morally reprehensible. For murder, we take away the guilty person's freedom for a long time usually. (not commenting on the OJ case specifically, he was totally guilty, we all know it). So as an example, in OJs case, the government didn't reach the hurdle to take away his freedom for doing a super morally reprehensible thing. The victim's familly did reach the lower hurdle of holding his responsible for the cost they suffered.

    Appeals aren't retrials. Appeals happen when the lower court judge got it wrong. Sometimes appeals are sent back to the lower court with instructions to fix one aspect of the case. For example, a case can have many questions to answer, and only one of those questions is sent back to answer again. Once something has been decided on the merrits, it's done. Just like in criminal court, it cannot be decided again. When you see a case go back and forth up and down the appeals process many times, it usually means it was a very complex case with lots of questions dependent on eachother. If A is yes, then B? If A is no, then C? if C is yes, then D? etc. Once A is answered, and affirmed on appeal (or appeal denied), then A cannot be asked again. If A is appealed and reveres, then the court can make them go do B or C again because the answer to A changes what B and C were asking.

    tl;dr: You're irritated because you don't understand what the courts do.
  22. macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Time Machine and Spotlight were big-name features, of course. The interface of those features were nice decorative touches, and in the former case got shown off in the Keynote, but hardly integral to the function of either, nor worth $400M.

    Perhaps you aren't clear on what this patent covered and that's what's causing your disagreement with me on that count? It didn't cover the technology of Time Machine and Spotlight, it covered the methods used to display information on a computer display screen. That is, it covered the three-dimensional display of a series of documents.

    That's why it applied to Cover Flow (a horizontal view of a bunch of cover images of "albums"), Time Machine (a depth view of a bunch of windows), and Spotlight (the exact same thing as Cover Flow, but with documents). Yes, the 3D view was a novel way of presenting the restore screen for Time Machine, and Apple certainly hyped it, but Time Machine would work just as well had they used a different means of displaying the information you can retrieve from its backup system--the real novelty of it is the extreme ease of use and fairly good automatic versioning it does.

    Spotlight is even more of a stretch--I don't even know anybody who uses the Cover Flow view in the Finder, and despite this victory, I believe it's considered uninteresting enough that Apple has removed it from Mavericks entirely. Again, $200M is a lot for a minor interface touch in the UI of the Finder.

    Cover Flow itself at least shows up on millions of iPods, iPhones, and iTunes installations, so you can argue the law of large numbers even if it isn't a particularly important feature to any of those products (except maybe iTunes, although even there it's just one view mode of many).
  23. macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Generally they only hear issues of a failure to correctly apply law, not the actual facts.

    So it would need something like using a law/case that had been overturned by a later one or claiming this case has precedent incorrectly. And then they would just send it back to the court that screwed it up.
  24. numlock, Jun 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013

    macrumors 65816

    Mar 13, 2006
    nowhere did i mention the patent or the merits of what just happened or the previous ruling although i must admit i did find the lack of coverage of the previous ruling surprising considering how much coverage the samsung case got. all the amounts in this case are obscene and again i never said i agreed with them.

    all i did was object to your description of the marque features of apple in middle of the last decade. those 3 along with expose were the "cool" features apple was offering and promoting the hell of. you cant try and rewrite history there.

    im sure time machine would have worked better without the useless extra animation but again this is something apple absolutely loved. mike matas i believe was credited with that design inside apple and you only have to look at his cv and what he did at apple to see how highly they rated him.

    i was never a huge fan of cover flow. im not sure if i installed the original plugin but again apple loved it and that they might remove it 6 years later dosent mean anything other than it may have had its day. i will say however coverflow is handy when going through a folder with lots of pictures.

    however i really dont find this lawsuit and these examples any "worse" than what apple has been serving up recently
  25. macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Okay, we're on the same page, but I still contend that those were "flashy" features used on the keynote stage, not anything Apple was basing sales of the OS or Macs on. Cover Flow for iTunes, you could argue (although that, of course, is a free program), but Time Machine is a stretch and Spotlight is ridiculous.

    Just because they showed off the cool UI in the keynote doesn't mean I'm rewriting history by downplaying the importance or significance of those features. They looked cool; they got used for advertising; they were not, in and of themselves, integral to the function of either technology.

    Mainly, though, I'm complaining about the proportional scale; if you make an operating system with a 20-year history and literally thousands of features, a partial-window 3D representation of files in its otherwise entirely 2D file manager does not warrant 1/3 of the fourth-largest patent settlement in US history. If you look at retail sales of Leopard (3.5M copies the first quarter, fell off from there), the $400M for those couple of UI features works out to a nontrivial fraction of the entire gross income from the OS (less if you assume profit from each copy included with a Mac from the same period).

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