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Legal Featured Article

April 08, 2011

Judge Overturns $625 Million Award against Apple

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor


Apple (News - Alert) has scored a major legal victory after a federal judge this week overturned a $625 million award that a jury had given to a company founded by a Yale professor for patent infringement. But the professor promises a “fight.”


Judge Leonard Davis found that a Texas jury made a mistake when it concluded Apple had improperly used technology owned by Mirror Worlds.

In its case, Mirror Worlds alleged that the Spotlight, Cover Flow and Time Machine features on Apple computers were from its “own patented software for archiving and displaying documents,” according to a report from Reuters.

In 2010, the jury awarded Mirror World $208.5 million for each of the patents, which worked out to $625.5 million. Apple filed an appeal, and Davis reviewed the evidence.

"No matter how attractive a party paints the facade of its case, it is worthless without the requisite foundational support. It is the court's job to inspect that foundation, and where it has not been properly laid under the law, to set aside the verdict to protect the reliability of our jury system,” Davis ruled, according to media reports. "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.”

Overturning a verdict in such as case, and giving the plaintiff no award at all, was “unusual,” according to  Southern Methodist University law professor Bill Dorsaneo.

"It's relatively unusual to set aside a verdict to zero," Dorsaneo told the Tyler Morning Telegraph in a story that was carried on TMCnet.

In arguing its case, Mirror Worlds used video clips of Apple CEO Steve Jobs (News - Alert), to provide evidence of patent infringement.

Mirror Worlds was co-founded by Yale computer science professor David Gelernter.

 “Of course we’re disappointed at the judge’s ruling, given the verdict of the jury finding not only infringement but deliberate infringement,” Gelernter said in an e-mail sent to the Yale Daily News on Thursday afternoon, and he adds the company intends to dispute the ruling.

“We’ve just begun to fight,” Gelernter told the Yale Daily News. “We will be vindicated.”

Gelernter is perhaps best known for injuries he suffered in 1993 from a mail bomb sent by Theodore Kaczynski, often referred to as "the Unabomber.”


Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee








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