Google, Microsoft and Apple Sued Over File Preview Patent Violation

December 29, 2008 0

A small Indiana based company called “Cygnus Systems” has lodged a patent violation case against three technology heavyweights Google, Microsoft and Apple claiming that it holds the patent on a common “file preview” functionality both in web browsers, and operating systems, which enables users to a brief preview of files before they actually opened them.

Cygnus Systems has filed a lawsuit against the three companies on Wednesday alleging that they infringed on its patent with products such as Windows Vista, Internet Explorer 8 and Google Chrome, which facilitate users to view preview images of documents on the computer.

Cygnus Systems also asserts that Mac OS X, the Finder, iPhone and Safari all infringe on its patent, the company said in court filings. Apple utilizes this technology in its Finder and Cover Flow Mac OS X features, the filings claims.

Nevertheless, it appears that Cygnus Systems is just another company trying to exploit the legal system.

The lawsuit filed in a federal court in Arizona where Cygnus Systems President Gregory Swartz resides is expecting to obtain a court injunction against the three companies for using their patented technology.

While Cygnus has sued three very high profile companies, there may not be the only vendors in Cygnus’s sites. Matt McAndrews, a partner with Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro, the law firm, which is representing Cygnus says the following: “They were a logical starting place for us…We have identified many other potentially infringing products that we are investigating.”

It seems that this is just like any other company wishing to cling on to legal loopholes, in anticipation of falling backwards into money. McAndrews continues to explain that Cygnus’ owner and President Gregory Swartz developed the “file previewing” technology while working on IT consulting projects. If the case gets into patents regarding the development of User Interface elements, Cygnus may as well cut their losses.

Well, Cygnus is not demanding a massive claim as such — but is just seeking a “reasonable royalty” coming from the three giant companies for using their patented technology in addition to a court injunction against these companies preventing further infringement.

Cygnus has applied for its patent (#7346850) of the said image previewing technology in 2001. It includes a “System and method for iconic software environment management” and was granted patent rights for the technology by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in March of this year.

Google, Microsoft and Apple did not return messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

In any event, battling these tech juggernauts over “file preview” would not make any twists at all, let alone a slightest sound.