While Apple’s famous Click Wheel may have passed its prime, the company is just now being forced to pay for a patent infringement lawsuit in Japan. The Click Wheel, which revolutionized screen navigation on iPods (back before touchscreens were common in mobile technology), was apparently already patented in Japan by Japanese inventor Norihiko Saito, who later filed a complaint in Tokyo District Court where Apple was forced to defend its use of the product.
Mr. Saito’s patent was originally filed in 1998, six years before Apple first put the Click Wheel on the iPod mini back in 2004. Saito was hoping to get Y10 billion (roughly $100 million) from Apple for the infringement, the courts ruled that Y30 million, or $3.3 million would be a more reasonable number for damages owed.
While I’m not surprised by the findings, I am upset to learn that the Click Wheel wasn’t an entirely new concept. The Click Wheel still seems like one of Apple’s coolest implementations of new technology to me, just because it seemed to work so seamlessly. The technology behind it worked incredibly well in real world usage, and made the iPod even cooler.