Another day, another patent suit, it seems. Apple and Target have been sued by Jerald A. Bovino of Colorado for patent infringement. Bovino owns a patent for a ribbed computer case, and claims that Apple and Target are infringing on his patent by selling the iPad Smart Cover.
The patent, which can be read here, covers "a portable computer having an integral case that incorporates a resilient material to protect the portable computer from wear and tear encountered when transporting and/or using the portable computer. The integral case also includes a retractable strap means that can be utilized to facilitate the transporting of the portable computer."
According to the complaint, which is embedded below, the alleged infringement centers on the ribs in the iPad Smart Cover. Interestingly, though, while the ribs in the smart cover are lines along with it is folded, the ribs in the patented computer cover are designed to reinforce the cover. Or, as the patent itself says, "to provide additional security and shock absorption for the computer in the case" (fourth page, near the end of the first paragraph of the left-hand column):
It's not at all clear why Bovino has singled out Target as a co-defendant. The suit alleges that Target has participated in the infringement by selling the Smart Cover (which allegedly has "no substantial non-infringing use"), but Target is hardly the only retailer to do so.
Bovino is asking the court for a declaration that the patent has been infringed, and that he be paid a "reasonable royalty for said infringement," including interest. The suit also asks the court to declare Apple's and Target's judgment to be willful and increase damages accordingly, and to award him with legal fees.
Interestingly, as Patently Apple reported earlier this week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just awarded Apple a series of patents related to several of its products. The newly awarded patents cover features of the iTunes Store, the Time Machine software, Apple Store display structures, and the Smart Cover. Bovino's suit was filed just two days after Apple was awarded the Smart Cover patent.
What do you think? Did Apple (or Target) infringe on the patent? Check out the patent and the lawsuit, then let us know what you think in the comments.