Judge gives Apple temporary reprieve in $625M patent case

Postpones final judgment to take post-trial motions from lawyers

A federal judge yesterday postponed his final ruling in the patent infringement lawsuit a Yale professor won against Apple, giving the company more time to dispute a $625 million penalty.

In an order issued Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Davis spelled out a schedule that gives Apple and Mirror Worlds until the end of November to submit additional post-trial arguments.

"All post-verdict relief shall be sought in these motions," Davis wrote in his order. "The Court will not consider any additional motions or briefing after entering the final judgment."

Last week, a Tyler, Texas jury awarded privately-held Mirror Worlds $625.5 million in damages , saying that Apple willfully violated three of the firm's patents. The patents apply to Apple's iPhone , iPod, iPad and Mac OS X, according to earlier court documents, and focus on interface designs including Apple's "CoverFlow" -- a 3D graphical interface used in iTunes and the iPhone -- and its Time Machine data backup and restore software.

On Sunday, Apple asked Davis to delay his final ruling on the verdict, claiming that the award amounted to "triple dipping" because the jury penalized Apple $208.5 million for each of the three patent violations.

Apple had asked for a one-day trial to decide the issue, or failing that, the right to submit additional briefs to Davis.

On Tuesday, Davis rejected the idea of a short second trial, and said Apple's emergency motion of Sunday was "moot" because of his order demanding more briefs.

Davis said he would allow motions under Rule 50 and Rule 59 , two procedural rules in federal cases that give judges leeway to reject a jury's decision or call for a new trial.

Mirror Worlds was founded by David Gelernter, a Yale University computer science professor. He is also the author of the 1992 book Mirror Worlds: or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox and the 1997 book Drawing Life .

The latter is Gelernter's account of surviving the explosion of a mail bomb sent by the Unabomber, who killed three and injured 23 others over a two-decade campaign of bombings. In 1998, Theodore "Ted" Kaczynski pleaded guilty to government charges stemming from the crimes, and is currently servicing a life sentence in a Colorado federal prison.

Earlier this week, Gelernter declined to comment on the case, citing the unresolved issues.

Apple has not replied to a request for comment.

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Tags Appleoperating systemssoftwareMacintoshMac OSDRM and Legal Issues

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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