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Apple is forking over $25 million for violating a patent in iOS and OS X interfaces

Design features that Apple implemented in several iOS and OS X program interfaces have been found to be in violation of a patent, for which the company will pay $25 million as settlement.

A release on Friday from intellectual property holding company Network-1 announced that its subsidiary, Mirror World Technologies, Inc., a data management software company, would receive the money from Apple for the settlement and fully paid up license for a “Document Stream Operating System.” The case referred to U.S. Patent No. 6,006,227, or the “‘227 patent,” which relates to “methods that enable unified search, indexing, displaying and archiving of documents in a computer system,” according to the release.

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The initial complaint stated that Apple was using similar embodiments of streams of information in a computer system, specifically in iTunes Cover Flow and OS X search features, including Spotlight and Time Machine. The interface that was in question is used to better organize and manage data.

Following the settlement, “Apple will receive a fully paid up nonexclusive license to the ‘227 Patent for its full term, which expired in 2016, along with certain rights to other patents in Network-1’s portfolio,” which were originally developed by Cox and Mirror Worlds.

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The litigation leading up to this settlement began in 2008, according to AppleInsider, when Mirror Worlds “filed suit in the patent holder-friendly Eastern District Court of Texas against Apple for infringing on four patents.” In 2010, a decision was made by a jury trial which resulted in a $625 million judgment against Apple, which Apple appealed. This new settlement relates to only one patent from the original complaint.

The ‘227 patent was originally filed by David Gelernter, a Yale professor, whose research in “lifestreaming” technology goes back three decades. His then-graduate student, Dr. Eric Freeman, continued and later completed the research. If you’re an Apple user, you’d probably recognize the similarities between interfaces on both sides of the case.

Now that the decision is settled, Apple can continue using it in its products — following the $25 million fee — with a fully paid, nonexclusive license.