Yale University computer science prof David Gelernter just became a very wealthy patent-owner. Well, potentially.
Three years ago, he sued the technology behemoth, Apple, for infringing on three patents held by his company, Mirror Worlds.
Friday, a federal jury in Tyler, Texas, agreed with him, and ordered Apple to pay $625.5 million in damages.
Apple is fighting the verdict, but if it is upheld, it will be one of the largest wins in patent lawsuit history.
According to the jury and Gelernter, Apple’s software features Cover Flow (think iTunes CD covers rotating like a jukebox), Spotlight (which allows you to search your hard drive), and Time Machine (the data-backer), all violate Mirror Worlds’ patents. Each win scored Gelernter $208.5 million. Multiply that by three wins and you have one very wealthy patent-owner.
Mirror Worlds’ product, Scopeware, launched in the early 2000’s, and is the product Apple allegedly ripped off. According to Inc.com, Scopeware is “a cascade of on-screen index cards, each of which contains a unique piece of e-mail, a webpage, or a document.” It is “a highly visual system that displays a line of documents and other items dating back (or forward) in time along with the option of searching these items to retrieve and edit them.”
So what is Gelernter’s motive? He tells BigThink.com: “It’s not because of the money…We’d like to see credit where credit is due.” And apparently there is a lot of credit due.
Apple’s lawyers should have known about the possibility of infringement and advised the company better. Maybe they knew, and just didn’t care. Either way, Apple is on the hook for a pile of cash. Kudos for Gelernter for grabbing the bull by the horns.
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