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Apple Wins $625.5 Million Ruling Over Cover Flow

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the simple-twist-of-fate dept.

Patents 113

An anonymous reader writes "A federal judge has reversed a $625.5 million judgement against Apple in a patent infringement lawsuit pertaining to Apple's Cover Flow feature. The lawsuit was filed by Mirror Worlds, a company founded by Yale professor Dave Gelertner. '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,' US District Judge Leonard Davis explained in his decision."

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Trying not to be cynical (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35718862)

Pretty thin article.

So what does "failing to lay a solid foundation" mean for overall patent suits in Texas?

Re:Trying not to be cynical (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35718958)

. . . Of money. A solid foundation of money.

Re:Trying not to be cynical (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720258)

. . . Of money. A solid foundation of money.

Truth perfectly expressed, friend.

Re:Trying not to be cynical (4, Funny)

ari_j (90255) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720674)

Nothing. I haven't read the decision, but it sounds like Mirror Worlds obtained a jury verdict against Apple for $625.5 million. A jury verdict is worth nothing until the judge orders that the clerk enter judgment according to it. In the American legal system, a jury can decide facts but the judge rules on the law. A jury's finding of fact is generally unassailable unless there was basically no evidence in support of that fact. It sometimes happens that a jury will reach a verdict and then the lawyers will argue whether the verdict was supported by competent evidence. If it was not, then the verdict will not stand. It does not take much evidence to allow a jury verdict to stand - even circumstantial evidence standing alone can be enough - but it takes some.

In other words, what happened here was that Mirror Worlds had lazy or stupid lawyers who failed to present evidence on all of the facts they had to prove to the jury, so even though the jury came back with a verdict in their favor the verdict is of no value. They can appeal the judge's ruling and ask the appellate court to reverse his decision and order judgment on the jury verdict, but they will have to point the appellate court to specific evidence in the trial transcript and exhibits that supports each and every element of their claims. If they couldn't point the trial judge to that evidence after he had sat through the whole trial, it is unlikely they will be able to show it to the appellate court - if they are even allowed to, since you generally cannot raise an issue on appeal that you never raised in the court you are appealing from.

There is likely no precedential value of this judge's decision beyond this one case, except that Mirror Worlds' lawyers will work harder in the future at their new jobs.

Re:Trying not to be cynical (1)

wynler (678277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35721266)

Actually in Georgia, the Jury determines the facts and the law.  But only for criminal cases.

Article 1 Section 1 Paragraph XI A
http://www.sos.ga.gov/elections/GAConstitution.pdf

Re:Trying not to be cynical (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 3 years ago | (#35723546)

In other words, that's completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.

So ... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35718880)

Is this a step in the right direction or will this (and others) keep aiming for the SCOTUS?

Re:So ... (2)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719040)

I wouldn't call it a step in the right direction necessarily. It's nice to see a troll get what it deserves (i.e. nothing), but this does point out that to overturn a patent, you have to have resources to do so. Which means the big players are going to have to lead the charge.

Plus, those same leaders have to be willing to not enforce the patents that they have with the same tactics. Last I checked, Apple seems pretty willing to defend its patents.

Re:So ... (1, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719580)

No, it's a step in the wrong direction. The precedent[1] set by this is that companies with a lot of lawyers are probably safe from patent trolls. Apple gets to keep being a cheerleader for software patents and to keep enforcing their software patents against other companies.

The best outcome would have been for this to have stood up. $625.5m is not a small amount of money, even to a company like Apple. A few more of these, and the patent system starts to be seen as a liability for big companies, rather than as a mechanism from keeping out smaller competition from entering the market.

[1] not in the legal sense

Re:So ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35719644)

Please show us where apple is a cheerleader for software patents.

Re:So ... (-1, Troll)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35721228)

Mod parent Funny...

Re:So ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35719684)

[1] I have no facts to back up my assertion, so I'll continue my rant anyway

Re:So ... (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719982)

$625.5m is not a small amount of money, even to a company like Apple

It's a rounding error in their cash pile of ~$60B.
It's ~2.5 days of revenue. ($25B/90 days)
It's about 1 hour of trading in AAPL shares.

It's a small amount of money to Apple.

Re:So ... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35721846)

2.5 days of revenue for Apple is about two weeks worth of profit, with their posted margins. That's a nontrivial amount. It doesn't take many of those in a year for patent lawsuits to become their biggest expense.

Conclusion (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35718910)

Even a Yale Professor can be a inept sleazy troll...

Re:Conclusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35718936)

As would you if there was a chance of getting your hands on $625.5m.

Re:Conclusion (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720100)

Lemme think a moment. 625 milion. The lawyers take a cut, expert witnesses want their pay, I have to pay for all the expenses involved in being in court for half of eternity. When everyone is paid off - I might have enough to take the taxi home.

I'll pass, thank you.

Re:Conclusion (1)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 3 years ago | (#35718950)

Clearly you've never been to a bar in New Haven, or you'd know that's the rule rather than the exception.

Re:Conclusion (1)

slashchuck (617840) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719250)

The Yale professor is David Gelerenter. [wikipedia.org]
He was injured by a bomb sent by the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Conclusion (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35719752)

He was injured by a bomb sent by the
Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.

So what? That gives him a right to be an idiot?

Re:Conclusion (1)

slashchuck (617840) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720508)

Mirror Worlds Technologies, Inc. was a company based in New Haven, Connecticut, which created software using ideas from the book Mirror Worlds: or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox...How It Will Happen and What It Will Mean (1992) by Yale professor David Gelernter, who helped found the company and served as chief scientist. The company ceased operations in 2004.

The troll is Mirror Worlds, LLC of Tyler, Texas (a subsidiary of Plainfield Specialty Holdings I, Inc.) which filed the suit against Apple, Inc. for patent infringement .

These trolls buy up patent rights of defunct companies and use them as an excuse to file infringement lawsuits.

I believe that professor has nothing to do with this lawsuit.

Since I don't ever use Apple products... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35718928)

This doesn't mean shit to me.

Re:Since I don't ever use Apple products... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35718974)

This doesn't mean shit to me.

Reigning in the lunacy surrounding software patents appeals to most /. readers. It's comforting to know that some are so narrow minded they cannot see how this eventually affects most end users and not just a single manufacturer.

Re:Since I don't ever use Apple products... (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719274)

Do you use KDE? The KDE Plasma Cover Switch animation seems to be Cover Flow. I'm not sure how this ruling affects that, but I bet it does.

normal as can be (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35718930)

So what the judge is Actually saying the conmen at apple have bunged me a nice big slice of wonga into my bank so i will find to suite them regardless of just how corrupt and thieving said company actually is and anyone that even tries to say apple are clean needs to go plug themself into the Gas main and the Electric main at the same time and turn em both on at the same time that way we get rid of another apple fanboy
 

Re:normal as can be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35719034)

So much hate in so little space!

Re:normal as can be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35720116)

No GF and he's beaten himself off so often for so long it's not working so well any more and he's becoming frustrated. I expect hate from basement dwellers like him.

Re:normal as can be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35722938)

you aint got the first idea kiddo when you wake from your apple flavoured stuper you might see the world throu normal glasses instead of rose pink poofter ones

Re:normal as can be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35719134)

So what the judge is Actually saying the conmen at apple have bunged me a nice big slice of wonga into my bank so i will find to suite them regardless of just how corrupt and thieving said company actually is and anyone that even tries to say apple are clean needs to go plug themself into the Gas main and the Electric main at the same time and turn em both on at the same time that way we get rid of another apple fanboy

Hateful, violent and illiterate. A perfect example of the sort of person who thinks that buying a consumer product from a different company than they would is an action deserving of death.

One day, with luck, you'll grow up and realize what an incredible douche-bag you've been.

Re:normal as can be (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719156)

I have to agree, just before the jury verdict (ie. after seeing all the evidence) the judge denied a judgement as a matter of law ... and then turned around and essentially granted it on appeal after the jury verdict. It smells to high heaven.

voter? (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720830)

Who do you think he would vote for?
D, R, L, TP, Gr?

[ hey I just noticed the Tea Party - Toilet Paper link ].

Re:normal as can be (0)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35721696)

Wow, isn't it weird how the anti-Apple fanboys are the most full of vitriol and hatred?

Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35719018)

I could of sworn I saw this kind of thing on CD jukeboxes and when flipping through a book. Maybe I was hallucinating.

Re:Prior art (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719046)

Yeah, if I was the judge, I'd have dismissed this case right away.

Re:Prior art (2)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719064)

I could of sworn I saw this kind of thing on CD jukeboxes and when flipping through a book. Maybe I was hallucinating.

Maybe you missed the words "on a computer", which makes it a completely new innovation. "On a phone" and "on a tablet" also make it completely new all over again. I mean, who would've thunk to make something that looks and feels like reality...on a computer/phone/tablet? It's so innovative. [/sarcasm]

Re:Prior art (2)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719162)

Then I would like to patent flipping pages... ON A BOAT!

Re:Prior art (5, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719428)

I could of sworn I saw this kind of thing on CD jukeboxes and when flipping through a book. Maybe I was hallucinating.

Maybe you missed the words "on a computer", which makes it a completely new innovation. "On a phone" and "on a tablet" also make it completely new all over again. I mean, who would've thunk to make something that looks and feels like reality...on a computer/phone/tablet? It's so innovative. [/sarcasm]

Can you find a single patent that was granted because of the words "on a computer", "on a phone" or "on a tablet"?

No. You can't. Those words appear in dependent claims, and are there for the purpose of claim differentiation. The independent claim from which they depend doesn't contain those words, and is still patentable, because it has the key innovation.

The concept of claim differentiation is straightforward - claims can't claim the exact same subject matter... Dependent claims have to be smaller. If the independent claim is a large space on a Venn diagram, each dependent claim is a subset of that space. So, when someone has a dependent claim of "2. The method of claim 1, wherein the transmitting is performed on a computer," all that means is that the original claim 1 may apply to things other than computers.

Same concept - if claim 1 includes a network, and claim 2 says "wherein the network is the Internet," that just means that the network in claim 1 could be the Internet, or could be a LAN, VPN, or any other type of network.

That's it. The end. Respectfully, your complaint is out of pure ignorance of how patent law works.

Re:Prior art (2)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719810)

Or, a simpler example.

First guy invents and patents a lightbulb.

Later, second guy invents and patents a durable lightbulb, covered by a shock-resistant coating.

The second patent isn't invalidated by the prior art of lightbulbs, because the second patent is really about the coating on the lightbulb.

Re:Prior art (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720212)

Can I then patent the act of screwing the coated lightbulb into a socket? I mean sure, people screwed old style uncoated lightbulbs into a socket, but they've never screwed in this new kind. It's a totally different invention.

Re:Prior art (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720268)

Can I then patent the act of screwing the coated lightbulb into a socket? I mean sure, people screwed old style uncoated lightbulbs into a socket, but they've never screwed in this new kind. It's a totally different invention.

35 USC 102: "Has the invention been done before?" - Nope. You're fine here.
35 USC 103: "Even if the invention hasn't been done before, is it a combination of two or more other inventions that create a predictable result?" - Hmm... Screwing in a lightbulb is known. The durable lightbulbs are known. If you combine the two, you get a method of screwing the coated lightbulb into a socket. Nope. No patent for you.

Re:Prior art (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35721486)

Yes, but my instructions for screwing in the lightbulb will be on the internet.

Re:Prior art (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35721704)

Yes, but my instructions for screwing in the lightbulb will be on the internet.

35 USC 102: "Has the invention been done before?" - Nope. You're fine here.
35 USC 103: "Even if the invention hasn't been done before, is it a combination of two or more other inventions that create a predictable result?" - Hmm... Screwing in a lightbulb is known. The durable lightbulbs are known.
Posting instructions on the internet is known. If you combine the three, you get a method of posting instructions on the internet for a method of screwing the coated lightbulb into a socket. Nope. No patent for you.

Happy, now?
I'm assuming you're trolling at this point, though.

Re:Prior art (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35722098)

Yes, I suppose I am. Other than posting what the rules are supposed to be, can you seriously say with a straight face that with tens of thousands of software patents being granted per year, that all of them pass all of the tests? I don't buy it.

Re:Prior art (1)

chaboud (231590) | more than 3 years ago | (#35723584)

Add: "May be a computer or computing device" and you've got yourself a patent.

Re:Prior art (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35723462)

Great. Then we are in complete agreement. Nearly every software patent is invalid because it's nothing other than the predictable result of other inventions.

It seems the problem is that when "on a computer" is used, those in the patent office find nothing predictable.

Re:Prior art (1)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720304)

You could probably patent a coated lightbulb with a different socket.

Re:Prior art (2)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35721044)

"That's it. The end. Respectfully, your complaint is out of pure ignorance of how patent IS SUPPOSED TO work."

Fixed that for you.

Re:Prior art (1)

jeti (105266) | more than 3 years ago | (#35721472)

How about Amazons gift purchasing patent [uspto.gov] ? Claims 1 to 34 were thrown out and the first claim that stands is:

35. A method in a computer system for coordinating delivery of a gift from a gift giver to a recipient, the gift and recipient being specified in a gift order, the method comprising: determining whether the gift order includes sufficient information so that the gift can be delivered to the recipient; when sufficient information is not provided in the gift order, obtaining delivery information from one or more information sources other than the gift giver; and when sufficient delivery information can be obtained from the additional information sources so that the gift can be delivered to the recipient, directing the gift to be delivered to the recipient as indicated by the delivery information.

What could possible be novel besides the "in a computer system" part?

Re:Prior art (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35721676)

How about Amazons gift purchasing patent [uspto.gov] ? Claims 1 to 34 were thrown out and the first claim that stands is:

35. A method in a computer system for coordinating delivery of a gift from a gift giver to a recipient, the gift and recipient being specified in a gift order, the method comprising: determining whether the gift order includes sufficient information so that the gift can be delivered to the recipient; when sufficient information is not provided in the gift order, obtaining delivery information from one or more information sources other than the gift giver; and when sufficient delivery information can be obtained from the additional information sources so that the gift can be delivered to the recipient, directing the gift to be delivered to the recipient as indicated by the delivery information.

What could possible be novel besides the "in a computer system" part?

Actually, it's pretty odd to get delivery information from sources other than the gift giver. Normally, you get a gift order and it's missing something like a destination address, you go back to the gift giver and say "where the hell do you want this thing to go?" Going to a third person seems like a good way to get answers like "uh, you should put it in the back of my car. That's totally it."

Re:Prior art (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35723442)

Can you find a single patent that was granted because of the words "on a computer", "on a phone" or "on a tablet"?

No, because the people filing them know that they are filing silly and invalid patents, so they dress them up all pretty-like. "One-click" was called "running a tab" for thousands of years. Couple "running a tab" with "on a computer" and it's somehow novel. They didn't even change the basic premise. You walk into the bar. You talk to the bartender to set up the terms of the tab. Then, you say "I'd like that" and poof, you just bought it according to the terms you'd already agreed to. The exact same thing as one-click. But, get this, "on a computer."

You can't patent or copyright facts/math. However, when you put "on a computer" at the end, somehow those slip past as well. Number theory resulting in new sorting algorithms was considered unpatentable and uncopyrightable until someone added "on a computer" at the end. Now, something that wasn't IP since IP was invented is now IP. You can patent and copyright math all you want now, even though explicitly disallowed, as long as you work in "on a computer" somewhere in the reasoning for protections.

I still don't understand who won. (4, Interesting)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719020)

Apple doesn't have to pay punitive damages, but the court still upheld the patents.

Though Gelertner’s patents were upheld by the court, Judge Davis threw out the $625.5 million damage award and closed the case in Apple’s favor.

Isn't this like saying "Apple infringed on your patents, but they won't have to pay anything. Have a nice day."

Re:I still don't understand who won. (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719060)

Though Gelertner’s patents were upheld by the court, Judge Davis threw out the $625.5 million damage award and closed the case in Apple’s favor.

Isn't this like saying "Apple infringed on your patents, but they won't have to pay anything. Have a nice day."

"You have successfully convinced me you have a nice patent. You have not convinced me it has anything whatsoever to do with Apple, or VLM at /., or chemicaldave at /. or pretty much anything else"

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719174)

That's logical. Glad to see a judge with some sense.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720790)

From the article:

The jury on Oct. 1 said Apple was infringing three patents and awarded damages of $208.5 million for each patent. Apple had argued in court papers that the amount was too high and that it was improper to add the damages. Davis agreed, saying “the evidentiary record is insufficient to support the jury’s damage awards” even if the infringement finding had been upheld.

So, basically, the Judge felt that the fine was too high and threw the fine out. Apple was found guilty of infringing on said patent. Apple did not have to pay a fine.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

chaboud (231590) | more than 3 years ago | (#35723658)

That's the bit that makes this a load of crap (even though I hate patent trolls). They were found to be infringing but the fine was too large. Basically, they won too much. They should have convinced the jury to keep it under $80 mil.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (3, Insightful)

varmittang (849469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719076)

No.

Apple didn't infringe the patents, so the patents are fine and not invalidated, and continue to sue others. But, the patents just don't apply to what Apple has done, so Apple doesn't need to pay a fine for not infringing on the patents.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719146)

It's going to be hard to sue others after this though. Certainly for anything like Cover Flow.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (2)

anegg (1390659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719084)

Although I haven't seen the details of this particular case, I don't think your conclusion is the only possible one.

My conclusion was that Judge Davis thought "You have valid patents, but you have not shown that the technology that Apple is using infringes on those patents. Have a nice day."

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719214)

Well he thought so the second time he had to think about it any way, he denied a judgement as matter of law just before the verdict, wonder what changed in the mean time.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (2, Informative)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719104)

What happened here is a Judgment Notwithstanding Verdict[tm], aka JNOV. It's not an appeal and it's not often used. Its reasoning is as follows (no, I'm not putting a cynical bent on it): no reasonable jury could have made that verdict, therefore the jury is unreasonable, therefore its finding is invalid, therefore I shall override its verdict.

Put another way, the judge probably has a stack of Mac Pros sitting outside his office right now.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (2)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720324)

right, so even though the jury is supposed to call guilty/not guilty, here the judge basically did a "LALALALALALALALALAA cant hear you!!" and got an invite to the black turtleneck club?

Man, i should have studied law instead of engineering

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720664)

Man, i should have studied law instead of engineering

They say a law degree is easier then an engineering degree. It may not be too late.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35722046)

i think my ethics class ruined me for any possible law career though

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#35722276)

Lawyers take ethics as well.
It is your humanity that will not allow you to become a lawyer.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35722560)

If ethical people don't decide to become lawyers, how will we ever have more ethical lawyers?

Re:I still don't understand who won. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35724074)

"Man, i should have studied law instead of engineering"

qft

Re:I still don't understand who won. (4, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 3 years ago | (#35723024)

No uncorrupt judge could have made that verdict, therefore the judge is corrupt, therefore his findings are invalid.

FTFY. Why should we give any more credence to you, than you gave to the judge for using the same line of argument?

If the lawyer failed to make a solid case, but the jury were impressed, then the judge should step in as a course of duty. Sometimes proof differs from conviction, and arguments that impress a jury may be, in fact, riddled with holes. Say, for example, you were accused of paedophellia, and the prosecutor simply screemed at the jury rhetorical questions like, "Do you want a man like this near your kids?", or "How can we be sure he isn't going to rape your daughter?", and the jury convicted you on these grounds alone, would you not prefer that the judge point out that no case has been established?

As a final point (although at this point it's probably useless given the apparent void of any critical thought here on /. regarding accusations of corruption of people in positions of perceived power), why would a judge risk a stable, well-paying job, his freedom, and his legacy, for a few mac pros? I mean, his decision will be published, and it is witnessed by several parties in the court at the time. If there was no substantiating evidence for the validity of his opinion, such a void of evidence would be apparent to anyone (with sufficient knowledge) who reads the decision. It seems, therefore, unlikely that the judge would do anything so overt as to throw the decision to apple for anything less than extremely substantial material gain (more than a few mac pros, or a few hundred thousand dollars), and it seems unlikely for apple to attempt such a bribery at such a steep going rate.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35723472)

If the lawyer failed to make a solid case, but the jury were impressed, then the judge should step in as a course of duty.

The judge is welcome to direct the jury during the case, yes. Anyone found guilty or losing a civil case is also welcome to appeal. A JNOV is neither. A JNOV is a judge being persuaded to change his mind, deciding after the finding that the jury should have been directed, but without the requirement for the party previously judged against to present a proper appeal to a better authority. It's essentially a way of fudging the system by making a ruling at a particular level non-binding.

Sometimes proof differs from conviction, and arguments that impress a jury may be, in fact, riddled with holes.

This is the purpose of directing a jury. In the event that a jury is directed to give a not guilty verdict and gives a guilty verdict, a JNOV may be appropriate (but only then). This is not what happened. If the jury is sufficiently swayed and the defence considers that the judge should have directed a not-guilty verdict then something has already gone seriously wrong, and a full appeal is entirely appropriate. Not just a casual changing of mind by the court.

why would a judge risk a stable, well-paying job, his freedom, and his legacy, for a few mac pros?

It is unlikely that he would. Any reward would have to be far greater, and you're being deliberately obtuse. Of course, no organisation has ever managed to bribe a judge with the prospect of current or future reward, so I guess I should apologise for making such an insane implication.

If there was no substantiating evidence for the validity of his opinion, such a void of evidence would be apparent to anyone

We could equally ask: if no reasonable jury could have found Apple liable, why did the first judge not either throw out the case or direct the jury? Such a void of evidence would be apparent to anyone.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719106)

Maybe that means the patents are valid but Apple isn't infringing on them.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

sincewhen (640526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719208)

I haven't RTFA but I would guess that the judge was ruling that the patents are valid and still stand, but that Apple didn't infringe upon them.

Re:I still don't understand who won. (1)

ferhatx19 (2034264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719210)

thanx for says

Re:I still don't understand who won. (2)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719334)

From TFA: "A federal judge in Tyler, Texas, today said Apple didn't infringe a patent owned by Mirror Worlds LLC and closed the case in Apple's favor."

"Mirror Worlds" (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719070)

Dave Gelertner is also famous as one of the UNABOM victims who survived. He originally wrote a book called "Mirror Worlds" that offered a theoretical means to digitally replicate the natural world in a way that would be indistinguishable from the original. After publishing this book he received a mail bomb from the UNABOM (purported to be FBI detainee Ted Kaczynski) which prompted him to stop publishing, remove the book from distribution, and re-write another book under the same title that some consider a complete retraction of the original premise.

Re:"Mirror Worlds" (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719438)

Well that's just sad as shit. :(

Re:"Mirror Worlds" (1)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719754)

"purported to be FBI detainee Ted Kaczynski"

Oh please. He did it. Knock it off with the lame conspiracy theory bullshit.

Re:"Mirror Worlds" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35721104)

But Kaczynski killed JFK, RFK, Judge Crater, the Lindberg baby, and Jimmy Hoffa. He also broke all those nukes in japan.

Didn't you get the memo?

Prior art? (1)

david.emery (127135) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719096)

The (thin) articles say that Gelertner's patent was for arranging documents in a time flow. Why wouldn't Eadweard Muybridge's work be prior art? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muybridge)

This sure seems to me to be Yet Another Duh! patent.

Re:Prior art? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719278)

The (thin) articles say that Gelertner's patent was for arranging documents in a time flow. Why wouldn't Eadweard Muybridge's work be prior art? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muybridge)

This sure seems to me to be Yet Another Duh! patent.

Muybridge died in 1904, long before documents were stored and retrieved electronically. As for it seeming common sense, you have to remember that it was filed in 1999, long before what we accept as normal ways to do things, today, just 12 years later.

Besides, the overturning judge ruled the patent valid, somehow, he just wrote off the damages from the infringement.

Re:Prior art? (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35722408)

Muybridge died in 1904, long before documents were stored and retrieved electronically.

That's irrelevant; merely replicating a manual process on the computer is not patentable.

As for it seeming common sense, you have to remember that it was filed in 1999, long before what we accept as normal ways to do things, today, just 12 years later.

The patent was ridiculous even when Gelernter got it 12 years ago; people back then already had many ways of arranging and browsing documents and other content graphically very similar to the way Gelernter attempted to patent.

The main thing that seems to have changed over the last decade or two is that more and more dumb and inexperienced people have entered the computer industry so that things that seemed to be obvious to anybody "skilled in the art" all of a sudden are mystifying and novel to people like you.

Besides, the overturning judge ruled the patent valid, somehow, he just wrote off the damages from the infringement.

He ruled that Apple didn't infringe the patent. In effect, he said that the only way the patent is valid is that it is so narrow that Apple didn't infringe. There are lots of narrow patents like that (exact shape of print cartridges, exact shape of connectors, etc.). They can be valuable, but in this case, they probably aren't.

Re:Prior art? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35722946)

That's irrelevant; merely replicating a manual process on the computer is not patentable.

The courts have ruled differently. Patents are about processes. Arranging documents chronologically on a computer takes a different process than arranging them manually.

he patent was ridiculous even when Gelernter got it 12 years ago; people back then already had many ways of arranging and browsing documents and other content graphically very similar to the way Gelernter attempted to patent.

That is probably true, but none of the other people patented the idea. I guess if they had published how they were doing it, then prior art might be applicable, but just because they were doing it does not, in and of itself, make it prior art. People were killing mice long before the first mouse trap was patented.

He ruled that Apple didn't infringe the patent. In effect, he said that the only way the patent is valid is that it is so narrow that Apple didn't infringe. There are lots of narrow patents like that (exact shape of print cartridges, exact shape of connectors, etc.). They can be valuable, but in this case, they probably aren't.

Actually, he ruled the patent valid and that Apple did not prove it's case against the patent. He further ruled that there also wasn't sufficient evidence presented to determine if the patent was infringed. That is different than ruling Apple didn't infringe.

The main thing that seems to have changed over the last decade or two is that more and more dumb and inexperienced people have entered the computer industry so that things that seemed to be obvious to anybody "skilled in the art" all of a sudden are mystifying and novel to people like you.

Ummm, my first computer work was done on a bunch of IBM 360s and DEC PDP12 equipment. Then I did a lot of mainframe work, then microprocessor development and finally was involved with software development for the last 30 years on personal computers. I am quite confident that you have used several of the projects that I was part of the development of (or at least ones derived from those projects). So, how long does somebody have to be in the industry before you consider them experienced?

Re:Prior art? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35723590)

As for it seeming common sense, you have to remember that it was filed in 1999, long before what we accept as normal ways to do things, today, just 12 years later.

On PCs with a real-time clock, MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 could sort documents by modification date. So "arranging documents in a time flow" has to be specific enough not to cover that.

Re:Prior art? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35724138)

As for it seeming common sense, you have to remember that it was filed in 1999, long before what we accept as normal ways to do things, today, just 12 years later.

On PCs with a real-time clock, MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 could sort documents by modification date. So "arranging documents in a time flow" has to be specific enough not to cover that.

Unfortunately that is not what the actual patent is about. If it was don't you think Microsoft would be suing Apple.

Re:Prior art? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720772)

I don't understand this "time flow" thing, it seems very buzzy and meaningless.

Re:Prior art? (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35722606)

Have you tried arranging it in a cube?

real history escaping? correcting itself/us (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35719126)

whackier by the day. the native american elders' 'truth is, babys rule' presidential campaign bid has become wildly popular, almost overnight (give or take 400 years, more or less, seems like yesterday?).

in other 'news'; continued outbreaks of honesty on cnn?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDVt_hSo_EU&feature=player_embedded

soon, we'll all know all about all this generationull real sex religious training 'monkey business', & the eugenatic depopulation team response?

so confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35719180)

So many slashdotters are confused. They don't know whether to be pissed off that a big corporation didn't get screwed, pissed off at a patent troll, or happy because they're apple fan bois.

Bad news for the small guy. (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719246)

This is bad news for small developers. According to the article, the original patent in question was filed in 1999 and a jury determined that Apple infringed upon it. Then when it was appealed, the judge determined that even though the jury ruled one way, they were wrong. Then he goes on to eliminate the awarded damages, while at the same time stating that original patent was valid.

So, if the judge agrees with the jury that the original patent was valid and then Apple uses the technology without paying royalties,
So, how can a judge find that the original patent is valid (which is also what the jury determined), recognize that Apple used the patented technology (which is also what the jury determined) and then through out the award and close the the case? At a minimum, should it not have been sent back to the lower court to be re-tried?

Re:Bad news for the small guy. (4, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719372)

This is bad news for small developers. According to the article, the original patent in question was filed in 1999 and a jury determined that Apple infringed upon it. Then when it was appealed, the judge determined that even though the jury ruled one way, they were wrong. Then he goes on to eliminate the awarded damages, while at the same time stating that original patent was valid.

So, if the judge agrees with the jury that the original patent was valid and then Apple uses the technology without paying royalties, So, how can a judge find that the original patent is valid (which is also what the jury determined), recognize that Apple used the patented technology (which is also what the jury determined) and then through out the award and close the the case? At a minimum, should it not have been sent back to the lower court to be re-tried?

As you note, the judge determined the jury was wrong.

The jury found (i) the patent was valid; (ii) Apple infringed; and (iii) the damages were $625.5M for infringement of the three patents.
The judge said that (i) was correct, but that (ii) and (iii) were wrong as a matter of law.

So, the judge and jury agree that the patent is valid, but the judge disagrees that Apple used the patented technology. Finally, as a matter of law, the damages award should have been $208M at most - you don't get to triple your damages by asserting infringement of three patents in a single suit.

As for sending it back to the lower court, this was the lower court. It can (and since there's at least $208M on the line) and will go to appeal from here.

Re:Bad news for the small guy. (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719436)

The jury found that the patent was valid and awarded the case to the patent troll based on the validity of patents. The troll said you're infringing, the defense said it's an invalid patent, the jury didn't see it as an invalid patent and Apple didn't make it's case that they weren't infringing and thus the jury of your retarded peers awarded damages. The judge didn't say the patent wasn't valid he just said it didn't apply to what Apple was doing. There's a lot of patents and a lot of them are invalid but that was not the gist of this case, this case was whether or not Apple infringed on the patent. To get the patent invalidated, another lawsuit would have to be brought against the patent troll.

Re:Bad news for the small guy. (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35722140)

Why do you call this guy a patent troll? From what I read, it was a legitimately filed patent back in 1999. Aren't most patent trolls the ones who purchase portfolios of patents and then use them against other companies?

Re:Bad news for the small guy. (3, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719470)

So, how can a judge find that the original patent is valid (which is also what the jury determined), recognize that Apple used the patented technology (which is also what the jury determined) and then through out the award and close the the case? At a minimum, should it not have been sent back to the lower court to be re-tried?

This all happened in the same court. This isn't an appeal, it is still the same court case.

Apple claimed that the jury was wrong when it said the patents were valid; the judge looked at it and said that Apple didn't give convincing evidence that the patents were invalid. They came up with 100s of pages of supposed prior art, but they should have explained _why_ the that was actual prior art. So that part of the jury decision stands.

Apple also claimed that the jury was wrong when it found that Apple was infringing on those patents. So the judge looked at all the evidence, and he found that the evidence, even if all the evidence against Apple was true and all the evidence for Apple was false, didn't show that Apple was actually infringing. Since it didn't show that Apple was infringing, a reasonable jury could never have made the decision that they made. The judge is not supposed to accept such unreasonable jury decisions, so he decided that Apple did not infringe.

Lastly, not mentioned here, Apple also complained that the damage calculation was wrong, and the judge agreed with that as well. It doesn't matter anymore because Apple doesn't have to pay any damages.

RTFA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35719554)

"A federal judge in Tyler, Texas, today said Apple *didn’t* infringe a patent owned by Mirror Worlds LLC"

Re:Bad news for the small guy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35720182)

"Then when it was appealed, the judge determined that even though the jury ruled one way, they were wrong."

Its supposed to be one of the safeguards of the judicial system, IE, if a racist jury finds an individual guilty of a crime simply because they are Black/Asian/White/etc the judge can invalidate the verdict. It goes along with the hole "its better that ten guilty citizens go free than one innocent citizen is imprisoned" mentality. The problem is that there are so many appeals options these days (for corporations & citizens) and they take so long to get through. If I remember correctly the Exxon Valdez case was still bouncing around in appeals court as recently as mid 2008 (when they got their damages reduced to 1/4 of what it was) and may still be in court even though the spill occurred in early 1989.

Some pretty sweet /. conundrums in this one! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35719422)

Oh so many permutations!

software patents suck v. big corporations suck

apple sucks because they have too much power v. software patent squatters suck because they live to get huge awards for doing nothing

judges suck v. juries are stupid

...

Bad title! Apple didn't win 625.5M$ (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 3 years ago | (#35719532)

They've successfully appealed a 625.5M$ judgment against them.

Re:Bad title! Apple didn't win 625.5M$ (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35720192)

Maybe this is "Charlie Sheen" winning

Summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35720464)

The first linked article isn't clear.

The judge ruled that Apple did not infringe the patent at issue, and the judge also set aside the jury's damages award. The judge upheld the validity of the patent, which likely means that the judge agreed with the jury on invalidity.

It's somewhat rare for a judge to completely disregard the jury's verdict, especially on a fact-intensive inquiry such as noninfringement. After the jury verdict, Apple most likely filed a judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) of noninfringement. This motion requests that the judge set aside the jury's verdict and make his on ruling based on the motion.

Of course, both sides can still appeal - the patentee might appeal the judges grant of JMOL, and Apple could cross-appeal on invalidity and other issues.

Patents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35722998)

Not that I like siding with Apple (and I'm not, really...).

Software and Business Method Patents need to go away. They serve no useful purpose. Patent the machine, not what you tell it to do or use it for.

Physical objects are difficult to design and prototype. Patents are *supposed* to give inventors protection while they come up with those designs and prototypes. Patents aren't supposed to protect simply an idea, but an idea that you truly want to bring into existence. That said, you should be able to prototype a patented machine within a reasonable amount of time, or you lose the patent (fscking squatters). Warp drive, anyone?

Software? That barrier simply does not exist. I can bring my ideas into existence with only a single machine that I can use for years to create ideas limited only by my time and resourcefulness. Copyright it, sure. Patent? Absurd.

A million to one that judge is a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35723294)

Republican.

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