Apple, Microsoft and Google sued over file previews

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Apple, Microsoft and Google sued over file previews

Chicago (IL) – Those small thumbnail images commonly used my operating systems and web browsers to illustrate the content of a file are at the heart of a new lawsuit filed by Cygnus against Apple, Microsoft and Google. The small Indiana-based company claims that it owns the patent for file previews used by software such as Windows and OS X as well as a number of web browsers.

According to Cygnus, its owner and president Gregory Swartz developed the file preview technology while doing consultancy work for IT firms. A quick look in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database reveals that Gregory Swartz indeed applied for a patent titled “System and method for iconic software environment management” in 2001 and was granted the patent in March of this year. Cygnus is seeking an injunction as well as royalties from the Apple, Microsoft and Google.

Apple’s OS X uses thumbnail previews to show content of documents in Finder and in Cover Flow mode, which employs high-resolution bitmaps for crisp file previews. Cygnus said that a number of web browsers also infringe its patent, including Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8. Cygnus’s suit also targets Apple’s iPhone.

According to Swartz, the three tech giants are only the beginning of a wave of suits. He noted that his legal team is looking for other potential targets across the tech sector, stating that they already identified “many other potentially infringing products.”