iPad Smart Cover Gets Apple in Trouble: Man Claims Patent Infringement

By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 29, 2012 10:40 AM EDT

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In yet another lawsuit filed against Apple, a man claims the design of Apple's Smart Cover accessory for its second- and third-generation iPads is a rip-off. Aspen, Colorado resident Jerald Bovino filed the lawsuit in federal court, asking Apple and Target to pay royalties for using his technology.

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Bovino filed for a "Portable Computer Case" patent in mid-2003, and was issued the patent in 2005. The summary of US patent 6,977,809 describes the design for a ruggedized case, which also includes a strap for carrying the device.

"Defendant Apple has infringed and is continuing to directly infringe, contribute to the infringement of, and/or induce the infringement of, at least one claim of the '809 Patent without Plaintiff Bovino's consent or authorization. Such acts of infringement include, but are not limited to, Defendant Apple's use, sale, provision, and operation of the iPad Smart Cover for the new iPad and the iPad 2," states Bovino's complaint, according to the court document, as reported by PatentlyApple.

"Plaintiff Bovino has been damaged as a result of Defendant Apple's infringing conduct. Defendant Apple is liable to Plaintiff Bovino in an amount that adequately compensates him for Defendant Apple's infringements, which, by law, cannot be less than a reasonable royalty, together with interest and costs as fixed by this Court," reads the official complaint. The "reasonable royalty" mentioned in the official complained is in fact a demand for $100,000.

According to the images from the patent claim, the ribs on Apple's Smart Cover represent the most obvious similarity. Indeed, Bovino's patented design did include ribs: "A portable computer comprising: an openable case defining an exterior surface for holding the computer, and a plurality of resilient ribs positioned on said exterior surface of said case wherein said resilient ribs protects said computer from wear and tear during the transporting and use of the computer," reads the first claim of the Bovino patent.

Intriguingly enough, Bovino's patent infringement lawsuit against Apple comes shortly after the Cupertino, California-based tech giant was awarded a patent for the iPad Smart Cover on April 24, 2012. The case has been filed in the U.S. District Court of Colorado. Judge R. Brooke Jackson is the presiding judge. We await the outcome. It's a classic battle between David and Goliath, don't you think?

(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Dave Clark)


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