back to article Judge flips $625.5m Apple patent payout

A US federal judge threw out a $625.5m patent infringement verdict brought against Apple that had been awarded to Mirror Worlds LLC in October last year. On Tuesday, Judge Leonard Davis said Apple hadn't infringed a patent owned by Mirror Worlds, which brought a lawsuit against the Jobsian outfit in 2008. The company was …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Ru


    "It additionally accused Mirror Worlds of "triple-dipping" by asking for payment on three different patents."

    I like this defence. "We may have done 3 bad things, but they're all the same kind of thing so we should only be punished once".

  3. Chad H.


    Mirror Worlds may have painted an appealing picture for the jury,...

    But Apple are more Appealing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "They additionally accused the prosecutor of "tripple-dipping" by asking for punishment on three different murders"

      I shall have to keep that defence in mind, it may come in useful one day.

    2. Bullseyed


      Mirror Worlds painted an appeal picture for the jury.... Apple "convinced" the judge to overturn their position.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well done Bulseyed...

        Are you really insinuating that Apple have paid off a Federal Judge to get a decision? This is a serious criminal allegation. I hope for your sake that you can provide evidence, otherwise this is defamation and you deserve to get sued.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          convinced does not mean paid off

          They just asked for a re trial, and won.

    3. Michael C

      misleading staement

      What they meant is they have 3 patents applying to a single product. Normally, the punishment is based on the infringing product, not each patent that product infringes on individually, as patent awards are intended to be based on financial loss and/or perceived profit. The calculation used to determine cover flow's damage value is not to be multipled by each patent is infriged on.

      We're not saying they murdered 3 people, but that's just murder so they get only one punishment, it;s like saying they killed one person, but used 3 different weapons to do it, yet they got 20 years for each weapon used?

    4. Ammaross Danan


      For future reference, if you're going to infringe a patent, you better just infringe ALL the patents from that company at the same time, so that you'll only get slapped for one infringement, but benefit from their entire portfolio....good to see we now have precedent.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I don't understand...

    He threw it out but the validity of the patents was upheld? Huh?

    So they broke the patents but didn't get fined? Is that it?

    Paris - because I am clearly being dumb not understanding this stuff and because tripple-dipping made me think of her...

    1. vonBureck
      Paris Hilton

      Re: I don't understand...

      Presumably they just threw out the $625m amount, so everything will go back for another round of backhand dealings to arrive at a new amount for damages. Even so, looks just right for a retirement fund...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      However it is possible to uphold a patent but say that the claim made by the holder was not relevant to the patent, thereby throwing the case out. Simples. Were the judge to dismiss the patent, it would be the same as invaliding it. So in essence he's validating the patents while dismissing the claim.

    3. Michael C

      bad author....

      No, he actually ruled on 2 things:

      1) patents were valid

      2) Apple did NOT actually use the methods described in the patents in the first place, and is thus not infringing on that patent portfolio.

      A patent is not an idea or product, a patent is a "method patent" or a "design patent" (in this case the former). You patent the PROCESS for doing something, not the thing itself (that's a trademark or copyright, depending on the thing). Since Apple's methods for producing the cover flow effect is radically different from what is expressly described in Mirror's patents, Apple in fact did not infringe.

      The initial jury was not properly instructed in what a patent was and how to determine infringement, and the jury in essence rules that is product A and B look alike, B infringes on A, but this is NOT the truth. You can easily build 2 different cars using 2 completely different sets of patented technologies, and in the end have the result of a 4 wheel vehicle that takes you from A to B, and neither are alike in so much more than they have an engine, doors, a method to steer, and a method to stop. Once could be steam and another petrol, and they're nto the same patented thing.

  5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I think I get it

    The patents are valid patents despite Apple's argument against them, but it is now found that Apple did not infringe them. I think. Or at least not to the extent of causing damage to you.

    As for triple dipping, I think the point is, suppose I steal one of your patented ideas and I deprive you of a billion dollars of revenue, then you sue and I owe you a billion dollars. If I steal three of your patented ideas and I deprive you of a billion dollars of revenue, I still owe you a billion dollars - not three billion dollars. However, since each of your ideas A, B, C, may have its patent struck out by the court, you will be arguing, "He stole my idea A so he owes me a billion dollars, and he stole my idea B so he owes me a billion dollars, and he stole my idea C so he owes me a billion dollars." This is only triple dipping if you are demanding three billion dollars from me.

    Breaching a patent isn't like breaking a window and paying for the cost of the glass: what countsis the injury done to you by all such acts added together.

  6. hexx

    thanks god

    that apple won this. they bought it from the developer who created this long time ago (2005) as a plugi-in for iTunes, more info here:

    1. No, I will not fix your computer

      Re: thanks god

      I think you're missing the point, although they bought coverflow from Jonathan del Strother (2006 I thought, not 2005), the prior art was from concepts in an 1992 book by David Gelernter, some ideas which he patented in 1999 onwards as part of his Mirror Works company and were used in 2001 as part of the Scopeware product.

      Of course, the questions of was the prior art known etc. is all irrelevant to the silly patent laws, I think I'll patent the process of drawing air into a pair of organic sacks in order to enfuse blood with oxygen.

      1. Michael C
        Thumb Down

        and you missedf the point too

        You're right about the history, but the fact remains, a patent is not an idea (that's a copyright or trademark, potentially, and not in all cases either). A patent is either a method, or a design. in this case they were method patents, and appel DI NOT USE THAT METHOD. This was in fact, accidentally the case, since they had no knowledge of the prior art (it was not known or readily available), so their design was truthfully based on their own ideas (this guy who made a plug-in), and it just happened that the method he used to make coverflow look the way it does was radically different from what they were asking a license for.

        Essentially, Mirror won a case against a car maker for having an engine in the front of the car, but on appeal, it came to light that the patent is not for an engine in a car, but for a steam engine in a car, and the "infringing" car was a petrol ICE... its like AM and FM, both are separately patented radio technologies, with to the layman the same results (turn a dial, hear stuff on a channel), but they make that happen in vastly different ways and thus can co exist in the patent world. Same for incandescent vs florescent light. Coverflow does not work like Mirror's software, though when you flip a switch, you got light either way, and a poorly instructed jury could not have made that distingction properly, thus it was overtunred on appeal.

        1. No, I will not fix your computer
          Thumb Up

          @Michael C

          I totally agree with you, I was just giving the reasons for the case, in my opinion (IANAL) some of the visual methods look similar to concepts discussed, so the case wasn't completely frivolous (under US laws), I suspect that if the award was lower than $600m it wouldn't have been thrown out so easily, it actually doesn't matter that I think the patent laws are silly and that it's become a self perpertuating industry in it's own right rather than being protection for inventors, I was just ponting out it wasn't as simple as hexx implied.

    2. Tom 13

      But if you really would have gotten

      a billion a piece for each of the patents, it wouldn't be triple dipping. Frankly, I think that's the way it SHOULD be broke out, so that when you get to the judgment phase, if it turns out that the infringement was for only 1 or 2 of the patents you get the either 1 or 2 billion respectively.

    3. Bullseyed


      I understand your logic but... If stealing A, B or C would have all resulted in $1 Bil independently, then it seems that there should be a greater penalty for stealing all three.

      If I shoot you once in the head, you'll probably die. If I shoot you three times in the head, you aren't any more or less dead, but it is a more heinous crime. How does the weigh into patent law, I'm not sure. The "smell test" says it should though.

      1. Michael C

        yes and no

        A greater penalty, perhaps, but not triple. Hell, even when you kill 3 people you are rarely sentenced to 3 full penalties (unless they're 3 truly separate events). Killing 3 people at one scene is different from killing 3 people on separate occasions. Apple was initially accused of making a product (coverflow, which was used in multiple systems and software packages, but is a single tech that would have been singularly licensed across apple's products if they had done so) that infringed on 3 patents, which led to a perceived 220m licensing revenue loss (a very suspect figure, few things is this world, especially one as trivial as cover flow, get licensed at more than the net worth of Block Buster corporation in it's entirety!). Whether it infringed on one or 3 patents, it was a $220m loss.

        Encouraging multiplied damages will only in encourage firms to patent much more generically, putting only a single step or two of a method in each patent, maximizing the number of patents that could be applied to a single product, and making them each much more general. We wish to discourage that. I agree, if apple was found guilty, the penalty should have been a bit higher, but only in so much as 3 patents shuold have been easier to dig up in a due diligence phase (or would have had more weight in a license negotiation), which merely means the "willful" infringement is more clear, not the damage caused by it. A 10 or 20% increase for each other effected patent would be sufficient (and is commonly held true).

        in this case though, a judge correctly ruled, the patents ARE valid, but the methods they describe are not actually how cover flow works in the first place, thus no infringement...

  7. Jedit

    Patent infringement thrown out

    "This ruling sent from my iPhone."

  8. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You forogt to use the word...


  9. Tom 38 Silver badge

    This is what happens with jury trials for civil matters

    Crazy merkins. You need a panel of judges, who are well versed in patent law, rather than 12 Texans who want to sock it to the evil Californians. As if it deprived him of a $200m dollars.

    1. Tom 13

      Crazy Brit

      If you knew the kinds of idiots we have for judges over here you'd want it going to a jury too.

    2. Michael C

      jury of "peers"

      Exactly. This was a case of a software designer vs a software designer, both of whom had a patent team at their disposal. find me 12 people that fall into that class who I'll stand trial before... Or at least 12 people i could considder peers who could, within the time span permitted in court, be brough up to speed on the appropriate laws affecting such a decision.

      This isn;t a case of Joe murdered Jim with a knife, and a simple explanation of what DNA is, and some video footage. This is an extremely technical argument, and I doubt the judge himself has a clue what was being discussed, let alone 12 random texans with not an important enough life to get out of jury duty.

  10. Michael C

    missed the big statement

    Article got it right about the overturned verdict, but it makes it sound like it was on a technicality. This is not the case. The judge explicitly stated that although the 3 patents would not be thrown out, and he found them valid, the real issue was that Apple di not in fact infringe on them, as the methods used in Apples implementation different radically enough from the methods outlined in the patent as to be considered unique beyond shadow of a doubt. aka, apple did it a completely different way (quite by accident as well), and is not at fault at all.

    The difference: the judge did not knock this back to a lower court for consideration, or rule the penalty unfit, this is an outright dismissal of charges, that can only be further appealed if it is found that this judge is in error. This is a dead end for mirror mirror.

  11. Herby Silver badge


    All software patents MUST have workable source code published. In the form used by the patent holder, not some obfuscated churned output. Also an explaination of the code is needed as well.

    So, simple Unix code won't work, you need something like the Lyons book in addition to the code to get a patent.

    That would brings these things down to a halt quite quickly. Once you see the code, you can easily code around the "bad parts". That is if you want the world to see how you actually do your task.

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