Japan's Intellectual Property High Court has affirmed a lower court order imposed on a local unit of Apple Inc. to pay ¥336 million (US$3.3 million) in compensation to a Japanese inventor for its patent violation. The patent infringement case concerned aspects of Apple's iPod Clickwheel.
This week's ruling came after the Tokyo District Court last September ordered Apple to pay damages to 57-year-old Norihiko Saito. Both sides appealed the district court ruling. Apple claimed non-infringement of the patent involving its iPod portable music player, while Saito demanded higher damages.
The high court said the iPod technology in question is a part of what was developed by Saito in 1998 and patented in 2006. In his suit, Saito sought ¥10 billion (US $98million) from Apple.
Despite Apple having been granted a number of patents regarding their clickwheel (one, two and three) over the years, with some patents dating back to 2002, it was Saito's invention, that was granted in 2006 (with a patent application in 1998), that won the day.
In the bigger picture, the small amount awarded to Mr. Saito for his invention would strongly suggest that the patent only contained a tiny fraction of the overall click wheel designed by Apple for their iPod. Mr. Saito's patent number was never revealed publically, so we have no way of reviewing this patent.