New MacBook Pros are here! Get the lowest prices anywhere: Apple Price Guides updated Sept 20th (exclusive coupons)
 


Monday, December 29, 2008, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Apple, Google, Microsoft sued over icon previews

Apple, along with fellow tech heavyweights Google and Microsoft, are accused in a new lawsuit of patent infringement for their use of icons that include a graphical representation of a file's contents.

The 4-page complaint filed this month by Arizon-based Cygnus Systems, Inc charges all three companies with infringing on its March 2008 US patent No. 7,346,850, titled "System and Method for Iconic Software Environment Management."

"The [patent] generally relates to methods of and systems for accessing one or more computer files via a graphical icon, wherein the graphical icon includes an image of a selected portion or portions of the one or more computer files," the suit says.

In particular, Cygnus takes issue with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard's use of icon previews in traditional Finder windows, as well as more detailed views presented by QuickLook icons that are accessible when viewing Finder windows in Cover Flow mode.

"Apple has further infringed one or more claims of [the patent] at least by making, using, selling, and offering for sale its iPhone and iPhone’s accompanying iconic file preview and access functionality, including but not limit to the iconic file preview and access functionality of iPhone’s main menu and Safari Internet browser applications," the complaint adds.

Similarly, Microsoft is charged for its use of iconic file previews in Vista and Internet Explorer, while Google is accused of treading on the patented concept via iconic file previews present in its relatively new Chrome web browser.

icon preview


Cygnus, which bills itself as a provider of "unique computing, networking and application needs of small to midsized businesses" in the state of Michigan, is seeking a damages in addition to an injunction prohibiting the three companies from further infringement.