Creative sues Apple over iPod interface, seeks ITC injunction | iLounge News


Creative sues Apple over iPod interface, seeks ITC injunction

Creative Technology has filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the iPod’s interface is infringing on the company’s “Zen Patent.” Creative also said today that it has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission requesting that the federal agency launch an investigation intro whether Apple has “violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 through its importation and sale after importation into the United States of iPods and iPod Nanos that infringe U.S. Patent 6,928,433, which Creative refers to as the Zen Patent.” Further details on both of Creative’s legal actions below.

From Creative’s announcement of the complaints:

As relief, Creative is seeking an exclusion order and cease and desist order against Apple Computer Inc. The orders sought would prohibit Apple Computer Inc. from engaging in sales, marketing, importation or sale after importation into the United States, or other infringing activities in the United States with regard to the infringing iPod and iPod Nano products.

Creative also filed a lawsuit today against Apple Computer Inc. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California that seeks an injunction and increased damages for Apple Computer Inc.‘s willful infringement of the Zen Patent.

The United States Patent Office issued the Zen Patent to Creative on August 9, 2005 for its invention of the user interface used by most portable digital media players, including many of the Creative Zen and NOMAD Jukebox MP3 players and competing players such as the iPod, iPod Nano and iPod mini.

Working at Creative’s Scotts Valley, California facility, Creative’s engineers invented the user interface covered by the Zen Patent to address the challenges of convenient organization and access of songs on high-capacity portable digital media players. Creative subsequently implemented its now-patented interface on its NOMAD Jukebox player, which was announced and presented as a functioning prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2000. The user interface covered by the Zen Patent has since been implemented in a variety of Creative players, the most recent being the award-winning Zen Vision:M.

Creative was awarded the “Zen Patent” for portable media player navigation in August 2005. The company said it was considering legal action against Apple a month later, and then Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo said he would go after any company that he thinks violates the patent. “We will pursue all manufacturers that use the same navigation system,” he said. “This is something we will pursue aggressively. Hopefully this will be friendly, but people have to respect intellectual property.”

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It was only a matter of time. Man, Creative’s an annoying little git.

Posted by dino on May 15, 2006 at 5:00 PM (CDT)


Stop selling iPods? Like that’s gonna happen. Watch the courts throw the case out.


Posted by Josh Powell on May 15, 2006 at 5:03 PM (CDT)


All these lawsuits are, are just wastes of time and money on Creative’s part.  The “if you can’t beat em, sue em….” mentality isn’t going to turn their fortunes around no matter how much they try.

Posted by Huskerz85 on May 15, 2006 at 5:07 PM (CDT)


If this was 2 ever get through (chances 0%), then creatie would become known as the scum of the universe

Posted by linton on May 15, 2006 at 5:08 PM (CDT)


Creative created the first digital music/MP3 player years ago. It’s true that the iPod uses the same interface, you can’t deny it…I don’t know if Apple can win this one, they will probably have to pay :(

Posted by Steph on May 15, 2006 at 5:19 PM (CDT)


How can you create a patent in 2005 and sue a company thats been using the system since 2001. Good game unCreative technologies.

Posted by sshafer on May 15, 2006 at 5:20 PM (CDT)


This is the dumbest lawsuit I’ve heard of. HOW are they going to get Apple to stop selling iPods.

Isn’t the current interface the same as the iPod Photo? So didn’t Apple come up with it first?

Posted by Bob on May 15, 2006 at 5:23 PM (CDT)


How can they claim Apple stole a 2005 patent when they’ve been using the iPod interface since like 2000?  wtf is Sim Wong Hoo smoking?!

Posted by Christopher on May 15, 2006 at 5:26 PM (CDT)


Creative have just gotta accept that they’ll never come at all close to Apple, and sueing them is not going to help.

Steph: They may have created the first digital music player with the widely used interface, but NeXt (Steve Jobs’ company that Apple bought) created the interface in their computers waaaay back in like the early 90’s… and the interface has been used in Mac OSX since it was released. Apple can and will win this one… easy peasy. if anything Apple should be sueing Creative.

Posted by Louis on May 15, 2006 at 5:26 PM (CDT)


the “zen” patent should never have been awarded.  creative wasn’t the first company to organize music like that.  how long have CD stores been organizing music by genre, artist and album?  definately before 2001.

Posted by teh mattster on May 15, 2006 at 5:27 PM (CDT)


“Under Section 337 of the United States Tariff Act of 1930, imported products that allegedly violate United States intellectual property rights can be barred from entry into the United States…Section 337 gives U.S. intellectual property owners a major advantage over foreign competitors, who face expensive litigation and the threat of harassment.”

while i’m not familiar with the entire Tariff Act, it appears to me that this is for protection from *foreign* competitors. Apple is a U.S. company that has deals with manufacturers overseas.

Posted by Toxic Boy on May 15, 2006 at 5:30 PM (CDT)


I don’t even understand how creative got the patent when Apple has been using it for years before? There is no way creative will win this. Sim Wong Hoo is just a crack head.

Posted by joe on May 15, 2006 at 5:31 PM (CDT)


Sick and tired of making miniscule profits? Sue Apple!

Well done Mr. Sim Wong Hoo; I guess you’re hoping that if you win you can force Apple to stop selling iPods and we’ll all buy a Zen Touch or something as our next DAP? In which case may I cordially invite you to eat my shorts? Examine your patent in any detail and it resembles just about any columnar based file/file metadata browser going on any number of other platforms. It’s as innovative in the modern computing world as wheels in the automotive.

The reason you lost the “DAP war” and only a tiny fraction of the market wants your feature rich, interface poor, connectivity stuffed products is because the iPod is BETTER. iTunes is BETTER than Windows Explorer and/or WMP. For my own part, also because your players don’t work with my mac.

You cannot sue your way to success on this.

Stick to making soundcards, at least you stand a chance of selling them in any quantity.


A smug and utterly satisfied iPod owner. Since Feb 04.

Posted by Brenster on May 15, 2006 at 5:31 PM (CDT)


Throw this out? The courts? Are you kidding? They LOVE this stuff, mainly because they get to make it up as they go. Certainly beats deciding civil liberty cases and dealing with that all-too-confining thing called The Constitution anytime.

BTW, the patent was finally awarded in 2005, not “created”. Creative won because they filed their application several months before Apple did. Both companies handled their menu navigation differently, but the basic scheme and outline was similar.

It’s been argued endlessly that a hierarchial menu system should never have been patented in the first place, even if in this case it’s narrowly applied to media player device (look at how eBay’s database works, for instance, or most any online shopping site, such as newegg), but such is the ways of the U.S. Patent Office (though they are not the only ones). Never mind that database design has worked this way for ages.

Posted by flatline response on May 15, 2006 at 5:37 PM (CDT)


I think I’ll patent organising books by genre and author. Then I can sue every bookshop and library.

Next I’ll patent the idea of locating similar goods together, with a nice little diagram of fruit next to fruit, near vegetables. I will then sue every shop.

Finally, I shall patent the concept of people of different skills working together on some overall project. I shall then sue every company.

If any of you here steal my idea, well, I shall have to consider suing you as well.

Posted by Moses on May 15, 2006 at 5:37 PM (CDT)


If Apple is forced to stop selling iPod in the current form, who is willing to bet that the touch iPod with a more graphics based interface will replace it?

Posted by Daveoc64 on May 15, 2006 at 5:38 PM (CDT)


Haha, its like Austin Powers telling Shaq that he can out play him. Pretty desperate if you ask me.

Posted by Paul Columny on May 15, 2006 at 5:42 PM (CDT)



Posted by David on May 15, 2006 at 5:42 PM (CDT)


1. The patent was *awarded* in 2005.  It was submitted much earlier and has publically available prior art from 2000.  It’s murky, and that’s what the courts are for, to sort out who was first.

2. The fanboys who are attacking Creative are some of the same ones who said Apple should sue A-Open for making a mini-PC.  Even though the form factor wasn’t Apple’s original idea anyway, but that’s neither here nor there.  The point is…Apple isn’t always right in every situation.  Maybe they are right in this case.  Maybe Creative has a valid case.  EIther way, let the court do it’s job.

Posted by stark23x on May 15, 2006 at 5:43 PM (CDT)


Creative just took a step toward failure. Apple should be the one suing them.

Posted by brian on May 15, 2006 at 5:45 PM (CDT)

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