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Lawsuit accuses Apple's Mac OS X Disk Utility of patent infringement

A new lawsuit takes aim at Apple, alleging that its Mac OS X operating system and its Disk Utility feature infringes on a patent related to peer-to-peer networking workgroups.

Software Restore Solutions filed the suit against Apple this week in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Apple is accused of violating U.S. Patent No. 5,832,511, entitled "Workgroup Network Manager for Controlling the Operation of Workstations Within the Computer Network."

Specifically, Apple has been accused of violating claim 32 in the invention, which describes "a method of computer management automatically resetting a computer to a preferred configuration by executing system configuration instructions." In this way, a system would compare a previous computer status to the current condition of the computer.

The lawsuit notes that Apple's Disk Utility feature has been available in all versions of Mac OS X since its first release. It notes that the feature can "repair functionality for automatically resetting a software application to a preferred configuration."

Found in Mac OS X, Disk Utility offers users the ability to accomplish a number of tasks, including erasing, formatting and partitioning of hard drives. it also includes Run First Aid, which can repair damaged file systems.

The original patent, granted to Robert Earl Beck and Ronald L. Schoenberger in 1998, describes a library of programs maintained on a host workstation. That workstation keeps track of activity occurring on individual workstations within a networked workgroup.


The invention also includes a file maintenance and inventory system that compares the attributes of files, directories and software located on the workstation to identify discrepancies or locate missing items throughout the workgroup.

Software Restore Solutions has asked that the court bar Apple from selling products it believes are infringing. The company also seeks damages "not less than a reasonable royalty."