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Apple sued again, this time over Numbers spreadsheet tech

A Texas-based company is taking aim at Apple over its Numbers spreadsheet technology.

These court cases keep coming. But then when you're history's richest company, I suppose you've got to expect the odd lawsuit or two.

This one concerns Apple's Numbers spreadsheet tech, its rival to Microsoft Excel. A Texas-based company has taken umbrage with the Cupertino company, claiming it infringes on its patents, Priorsmart reports.

Apple is accused of infringing on a patent covering a "system and methods for improved spreadsheet interface with user-familiar objects" in Numbers. (Basically it's accusing Apple of copying how its software works.) The complaint was filed on Wednesday with the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Tyler Division.

The patent was granted back in 1995, and now belongs to Data Engine Technologies LLC, which is what's commonly referred to as a 'patent troll.' No, that doesn't mean it stalks the patent libraries making offensive comments, it brings actions for financial gain rather than out of any desire to protects its products. Or so a cynic might say.

According to Data Engine Technologies, Apple knew about its patent in mid-2010, and referenced its own patent for cutting and copying cells in a spreadsheet, which was issued in 2007. Apple introduced Numbers that year, and launched it as a standalone iOS app in 2010.

Data Engine Technologies is asking for damages for infringement, plus a permanent injunction on Numbers. The full works then.

It may seem small beer to Apple's more high profile appearances before a judge, but a case of this kind could still cost the Mac maker. Apple recently won $1 billion from Samsung in the biggest court case in tech history. And now it's asking for another $700 million for its troubles.

What do you think of Data Engine Technologies' chances? And what do you make of these patent cases? Let me know in the comments below, or over on our patently great Facebook page.