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Mirror Worlds wins Cover Flow case against Apple

Connecticut-based Mirror Worlds LLC, founded by Yale computer science professor David Gelernter, has won a jury verdict against Apple for the Cover Flow technology used in everything from the Macintosh Finder application to iTunes to its iOS mobile operating system. According to Bloomberg, Apple may be forced to pay as much as $625.5 million for infringing on three Mirror Worlds patents.

The patents cover MIrror Worlds’ “document streaming” technology, which (loosely) displays different collections of documents based on users’ selected criteria, and presents them in a pile or stack that a user can flip through on screen. MIrror Worlds alleges Apple uses the technology in both its widely-deployed Cover Flow feature as well as its Time Machine backup system.

Apple has filed for an emergency stay of the verdict, claiming there are outstanding issues regarding the validity of two of the three patents involved in the case. In a filing prior to the October 1 verdict, Apple asserts that it doesn’t infringe on two of the patents involved; Apple also apparently claims Mirror Worlds is trying to “triple dip” to increase the size of its damage award. If the judge were to throw out infringement damages from those two patents, Apple would presumably only be on the hook for $208.5 million.

The case was launched in 2008 and heard before a jury in the patent holder-friendly U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. It originally involved four patents.

Gelernter is the author the book Mirror Worlds: or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox…How It Will Happen and What It Will Mean.