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Creative considers legal action over patent violation

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Thursday, September 1, 2005
News Categories: iPod

Apple may soon come under legal pressure from Creative Technology now that the Singapore-based company has been awarded a patent that it says the iPod infringes upon. Creative has already openly accused Apple of violating the patent, which covers the way users navigate music selections on a portable device, and the company told The New York Times that it is considering every option available to defend the patent, including possible legal action.

Craig McHugh, president of Creative’s United States operations, said yesterday that Apple was the only company identified so far that was in violation of the patent, though Creative was investigating others. “We are looking at all our alternatives right now,” McHugh said. “We have always been very vigorous in our defense of our patent portfolio.”

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Comments

1

Hi, I don’t know about you guys but this really sounds and feels like the ‘sore loser’ is doing his worse here; Creative openly declared war on Apple’s iPod with its “iPod Killers”, that plan went down the drain and caused its stock to fall a while back.

Now they found one avenue to “rip” Apple off and they are publishing the patent news all over the world. Now why isn’t there more news and louder publicity about a stock of Zens carrying a virus worm?? Now that will affect a consumer more directly than anything else.

And P.S. I am from Singapore and I am here to declare I would never support Creative and its products; Not because of its inferior or “bug infested” products but the way and the attitude it and its CEO is carrying.

Posted by howwow in Singapore on September 1, 2005 at 10:09 AM (PDT)

2

Creative, like so many other companies that have lost leadership positions in the industry, has now fallen to the same vile tactics I thought reserved only for those as low as SCO or Rambus.  That’s just foul.  I have not purchased Creative products for several years now because in my opinion they are no longer the best.  Best or not, this is vile, and my displeasure as a consumer will always be with my pocketbook.  I’ll never buy Creative again.

Posted by Jason Engel on September 1, 2005 at 10:10 AM (PDT)

3

hahahahaha oh that’s awesome

Posted by chris on September 1, 2005 at 10:25 AM (PDT)

4

Pathetic. Companies that do this type of anticompetitive behaviors are responsible for the stifling of innovation in every industry; if Creative pursues this, I will gladly NEVER purchase a Creative product again.

It’s a shame, I use Creative speakers…

Posted by Greg Hard on September 1, 2005 at 10:36 AM (PDT)

5

It’s a shame, I use Creative speakers…
Haha, I do too, and they’re pretty damn nice.

This may be a pretty foul move by Creative, but we know that Apple would do the same thing if they were in Creative’s position….

Posted by Shane on September 1, 2005 at 10:59 AM (PDT)

6

hey, i dont want to sound stupid, but does this mean that apple has to change the interface of the ipod or sth…?

Posted by slughorn on September 1, 2005 at 11:15 AM (PDT)

7

Funny.  When Apple pulls this kind of crap, the fanboys defend them.  Shoe’s on the other foot now.  Creative are bing opportunistic jerks, sure…but maybe Apple deserves a little taste of that after the way they;ve treated fans and the media and accessory makers and software companies these past three or four years.

Posted by stark23x on September 1, 2005 at 12:36 PM (PDT)

8

Apple could not have lost this patent to a worse company (well, maybe themselves!)

Creative are well known in the PC arena, but not just for there tech (as it stands today) but for the borderline ilegal treatment of their customers.

They have 2 main goals…

1.) Crush any market that they to not dominate by using shady business tactics and buying up struggling IT/IP companies with superior products/designs/patents, and then burying said product/patent/design.

Doubtful that they could buy Apple.

2.) Sue the hell out of compainies by filling as many patents as humanly possible, and then settling for a royalty/advertising based “solution”.  (patent system exploitation)

We could see some kind of Creative sound technology in the 6th/7th gen iPod! (more likely)

Lets see which Apple get pushed in to, shall we.

Posted by Tonester on September 1, 2005 at 12:39 PM (PDT)

9

It’s not a very Zen-like attitude they’re adopting, is it?  Irony…

Posted by Christopher on September 1, 2005 at 12:41 PM (PDT)

10

Patents are reserved for ideas that are not obvious. Somehow I think we’ve seen hierarchical menus before. But hey, just to show that I can be a sore loser too, I am going to file a patent for all possible combinations of the letters ACEEITRV and sue anyone who trues to use them.

Posted by David on September 1, 2005 at 12:44 PM (PDT)

11

If Apple deems the patents hold by Creative strong, it would probably just trade patents (Clickwheel?) with them, that is, if Creative will not accept monetary settlement.

If on the other hand, Apple can find prior-art, I am sure Apple will try to get the patent invalidated…

Posted by WilliamC in Philippines on September 1, 2005 at 12:59 PM (PDT)

12

David-

Don’t lose perspective of when this patent was written and submitted.  Things may not have been so obvious back then during the infancy of the MP3 market.

But, I get your drift.  The way the menus are set up on a Creative player and on the iPod closely mimic the way music has been filed in stores for many years…seems to be obvious when you look at it that way.

Ultimately someone was going to get the patent and it seems appropriate that Creative did considering they were the first to apply.

I bet Apple (or someone else) has a patent on their new “Mighty Mouse” with the tiny trackball on top of it.  At first sight I thought of how great, but obvious of an idea it was in comparison to the Microsoft mouse that allows you to scroll both diagonally and horizontally.  But, to say it’s obvious now is easier than it was to think it up when the mouse had no scroll wheels at all.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on September 1, 2005 at 1:04 PM (PDT)

13

Go ahead, Creative.  Do what you must.  Unfortunately for you, this patent won’t survive a court case.

Posted by The Raven on September 1, 2005 at 1:25 PM (PDT)

14

What a joke! “Creative CONSIDERS legal action…” the whole purpose of patenting an interface used in the most popular mp3 player on the market is to persue legal action. It seems to me to be an alternative to comming up with a product that can use the interface to actualy win over consumers. I guess the moral to the story is, if you cant beat ‘em ,sue ‘em! Not very creative, huh?

Posted by jacki-o-nasty on September 1, 2005 at 1:26 PM (PDT)

15

Stark23x, I agree with you completely…If it were the other way around, and Apple had the patent rights, and accused creative of illegally using their interface, the majority of posts would condemn Creative for patent infringement.  On these boards, even when Apple is in the wrong, it’s overwhelmingly supported, either directly, or indirectly. 

I’m no fan of Creative, but that, and the Zen, etc.  have nothing to do with the patent issue.  But many of the things people are accusing Creative of have already been done or attempted by Apple.

Posted by dmt1 on September 1, 2005 at 1:32 PM (PDT)

16

I don’t see Creative winning this suit. of course, I do not know all the facts regarding this suit and I might be wrong too, but I will give it a try.

first of all, Creative filed for patents and won the patents only recently. I don’t think they can claim patent violation when patent was in pending mode. see 35 U.S.C. 273(b)(1).

secondly, the market was dominated by Apple prior to Creative’s patent filing. I m not a patent lawyer so I do not quite know about this but there is a market-domination defense as far as i know.

these are the things i can think of. i am not an expert on patent law so don’t bash me if i am wrong.

Posted by make Trades Fair on September 1, 2005 at 1:37 PM (PDT)

17

Anyone who thinks they’re a patent expert should read the following articles for a primer on how patents lie dormant, are exploited and defended.

http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,53981,00.html

http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,63200,00.html

I bet some of you wouldn’t have thought someone had a patent on JPEG compression…it seems so obvious to compress pictures…others have dominated the market…none of these arguments will hold up in court if a patent is valid.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on September 1, 2005 at 1:54 PM (PDT)

18

Wow. What an example of sore losers you all are. Apple would do the very same thing if they were awarded this patent. Don’t kid yourself and say they wouldn.t Remember, they sued over “look and feel” many years ago. But I doubt many of you who post here are old enough to remember that.

Posted by wirelessnun on September 1, 2005 at 2:49 PM (PDT)

19

How not will this hold up. Wannabe #######.

And seriously, if they get Apple to not use the current way of navigation, they’ll own with some innovative GREATUBERPERFECT new way.

Posted by MiEK in Maastricht, Netherlands on September 1, 2005 at 2:53 PM (PDT)

20

Wirelessnun:

Exactly my thought as I was reading many of the posts here.  Have to laugh when reading some of these comments (howwow, Engel, et al.).  Many of the same arguments could be made about Apple’s “look-and-feel” lawsuit against Microsoft.

Engel:  “Creative, like so many other companies that have lost leadership positions in the industry, has now fallen to the same vile tactics . . .”  Sounds like Apple and Microsoft.

Posted by David on September 1, 2005 at 3:03 PM (PDT)

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