The following is excerpted from an October 11, 2010 article by Thomas B. Scheffey published by Connecticut Law Tribune:
Old photos of Professor David Gelernter’s lived-in office in the computer science department at Yale depict a sprawling array of the scholar’s scattered papers, and teetering books.
If necessity is the mother of invention, you can see why he would have invented his “lifestream” software. It archives every type of computerized file in chronological order, and can pull together any relevant groups of files as needed. It’s a pack rat’s dream. Nothing needs to be thrown away, just digitized. Then everything’s at your fingertips.
Gelernter, of Woodbridge, and Yale graduate student Eric Freeman, of Branford, explained those ideas in 2001 in three patents they earned that year. These made interesting reading back then. For a brief period, they came to life in a commercially unsuccessful software product called Scopeware Vision that halted production in 2004. According to author James Fallows, writing in The New York Times in 2004, Gelernter’s backers folded, “despairing of staying in the race when Microsoft had so clearly indicated that it would include disc-search functions in Longhorn, its next version of Windows, scheduled for release in 2006.”
But instead of fading into an historical footnote, the patents and inventors of New Haven–born Scopeware are now suddenly making big news and, in all likelihood, big money.
Last week, the patents were the basis for a Tyler, Texas federal court jury awarding Gelernter’s Mirror Worlds LLC a stunning $625.5 million verdict against computer giant Apple Inc. The jury found that Apple intentionally infringed on the patents to create its Cover Flow, Time Machine and Spotlight display tools.
Read the full article here.