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Lawsuit filed against Apple over vague user interface patent

The patent holding company IP Innovation LLC has filed a lawsuit against Apple Incorporated, blaming the Cupertino-based company for "directly infringing at least claim 21 of the '412 Patent through, among other activities, the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale and/or importation into the United States of its Mac OS X v10.4 'Tiger' operating system." US Patent #5,072,412 describes a computer operating system interface with "workspaces provided by an object-based user interface appear to share windows and other display objects." IP Innovation is asking for $20 million in damages from Apple, to add to the list of at least 32 other patent infringement cases over the past several years against companies as varied as Daewoo, Samsung, Dell, Thomson, Brother, Sony, and RealNetworks.

The patent in question was originally filed by Xerox back in 1991, referencing patents that dealt with graphical user interfaces dating back to 1984. This specific patent describes a "workplace" that consists of multiple windows and "other display objects" on the screen, and if a user clicks on one of the links in each window, it can cause the contents of said window to change, reflecting a different "workplace." The language of the patent is very vague and could apply to any user interface found in all modern operating systems, but seems to be most closely related to the idea of "tabbed" dialog boxes, like the ones seen in both Windows and Mac OS X. It remains to be seen whether or not IP Innovations plan to continue their lawsuit rampage by going after Microsoft and other system vendors.

News source: Ars Technica

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