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Judge Nixes $625M Patent Ruling Against Apple

(CN) - A federal judge in Tyler, Texas, has thrown out a $625 million jury award against Apple for patent infringement involving the company's latest operating systems.

In winning one of the largest patent infringement damages awards in history this past October, Mirror Worlds convinced a Texas jury that it had invented the technology behind the Time Machine, Spotlight and Cover Flow features of Apple's Mac OS X. Those applications are available on Apple's three last operating systems: Tiger, Leopard and Snow Leopard.

"No reasonable jury could have concluded that Apple directly infringed [Mirror Worlds' patent] claims," U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis wrote on April 4. In a footnote, Davis makes the same statement about indirect infringement.

Users of iTunes frequently use the Cover Flow feature when flipping through the covers of albums in their music library. Time Machine automatically creates a backup of a user's files. Spotlight creates a virtual index of every item on an Apple device, allowing users to quickly find the item.

Davis found that much of Mirror Worlds' case rested on the "bald recitation" of Cover Flow's features and analogies about the similarities between it and Mirror Worlds' technology. But the Tyler, Texas-based software company lacked "supportive reasoning" about how they were substantially similar, Davis continued.

While upholding Mirror Worlds' patents and honoring the work of the jury, Davis questioned the foundation of the case against Apple.

"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," the 44-page decision states.

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