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Apple to pay $25M to settle patent infringement lawsuit, license technology

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Apple has agreed to pay $25 million to non-practicing entity Network-1 Technologies to settle a patent infringement lawsuit over technology relating to iTunes Cover Flow and OS X search features including Spotlight and Time Machine.

In an announcement on Friday, Network-1 said Apple's payout brings an end to litigation over the alleged violation of U.S. Patent No. 6,006,227 for a "Document Stream Operating System," a piece of IP purchased by Network-1 from Mirror World Technologies. Apple will receive a paid non-exclusive license to use technology detailed in the '227 patent, as well as access to other patents in Network-1's portfolio of acquired IP originally developed by Cox and Mirror Worlds.

The $25 million settlement comes after a years-long court battle dating back to 2008, when Mirror Worlds filed suit in the patent holder-friendly Eastern District Court of Texas against Apple for infringing on four patents. The original complaint leveraged patents describing "streams" of information in a computer system, embodiments of which are similar to Cover Flow and Time Machine.

The '227 patent applicable to today's settlement was invented by Yale professor named David Gelernter, whose work was continued by doctoral student Eric Freeman prior to the Patent and Trademark Office's grant in 1999. Gelernter's research into so-called "lifestreaming" technology goes back to the 1990s and is similar in function to certain Apple products. Network-1 purchased Mirror Worlds' portfolio containing nine granted patents and five patent applications in 2013.

An initial jury trial leveraging four Mirror Worlds patents resulted in a $625 million judgment against Apple in 2010, but the company successfully appealed that ruling six months later. Today's settlement relates to a single patent included in the original complaint.