The Tokyo District Court has ordered Apple to pay ¥300 million (about $3.3 million) to Norihiko Saito, a Japanese inventor who claims the company infringed on his patent for a touch-sensitive click wheel. The technology, which was implemented in multiple generations of iPods, has largely been replaced by touchscreen devices, but not before the court finally ruled on the five-year old case.
Apple appears to have approached Saito’s suit the way it often deals with patent trolls, stalling the legal process for as long as possible in an effort to lower the plaintiff’s asking price. In this case, Saito does not appear to be a patent troll, but that didn’t stop the strategy from working, as he eventually slashed his demands from $101 million to just over $3 million.
Apple has been using a touch-sensitive click wheel in its line of iPod’s since 2004, and still keeps the technology around with the iPod Classic. Since the launch of the iPhone, however, the company has made a clear move towards touch-screens, leading some to suggest Apple may kill off the iPod Classic—and the click wheel—once and for all.