You know that nice Cover Flow interface (above) that Apple uses on iDevices, in iTunes, and in Mac OS X? An East Texas Federal Court has ruled that Apple infringed on patents held by Mirror Worlds, a software business started by Yale University computer science professor and Unabomber victim David Gelernter. As a result, the court has ordered Apple to pay Mirror Worlds US$208.5 million in damages. The Time Machine interface, which shows a series of screen or application images "receding" back in time, was also part of the case filed by Mirror Worlds on March 14, 2008.
As Mac Observer has pointed out, many of the Cover Flow and Time Machine concepts of showing files or album covers moving back and forth were in use by Apple in HyperCard stacks many years before Mirror Worlds received patents for the idea. Whether Apple will appeal the verdict or not is unknown at this time.
Apple was granted a patent for Cover Flow in April, 2010, which makes this ruling even more questionable. Mirror Worlds, LLC was disbanded in 2003 due to lack of sales of its software products.
Apple has not made any comments regarding the verdict or a possible appeal.