updated 02:20 pm EST, Fri December 26, 2008
Cygnus vs. Apple, etc.
Apple, Google and Microsoft have all been targeted in a lawsuit related to software technology, reports say. The three have been accused by Cygnus System of violating US patent 7,346,850, System and method for iconic software environment management. In depth, the patent describes "a method and system for storing, navigating, and accessing files within an operating system through the use of a graphical thumbnail representing the video display of the active document within the active application."
The patent may therefore cover software like Apple's Cover Flow and Microsoft's Windows Explorer, both of which are capable of showing previews of documents via thumbnail images. Cygnus' lawsuit makes particular mention of the iPhone's file previews, and Safari's browser tab thumbnails. The main Google technology cited is the Chrome web browser, which is based on the same foundations as Safari.
The suit could have broad consequences in the software industry, as many companies produce products directly or indirectly founded on technologies named in Cygnus' court filings. Similar concepts are also used in applications by the likes of Adobe and Opera, and Cygnus is asking not only for general damage compensation, but retroactive money going back to the beginning of patent infringement.