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.”

« Apple music biz, Asian iPod market to flourish

Better Energy Systems ships Tread cases »

Related Stories



the patent was awarded in august 2005…
but, with all patents, it was not filed the same day…
it was filed years (eons) ago..
i think Creative will win this one…
and apple will either pay or stop producing ipods…i think they will pay (under the table)...
the UI copying has been in the news years ago and i think Creative is just waiting for the patent to be granted before going after apple…uncreative apple did not change their interface before the patent is released because they are making money out of copying it…
behhh to apple…

Posted by iJay on May 16, 2006 at 4:40 AM (CDT)


Just one more piece of evidence, as if any was needed, why the US patent office is a laughing stock and why patenting software should never have been allowed.

Posted by phennphawcks on May 16, 2006 at 4:56 AM (CDT)


WTF is wrong with Creative? It’s name is an oxymoron already! The Vision: M actually uses the same interface as the iPod, the color, the top bar, the battery icon, and even the SCROLL BAR!!!! The friggin’ blue scroll bar! That’s not just copying the iPod, but it copies Mac OS X!!!

Apple should sue them back for using the iPod theme!

Posted by hoho on May 16, 2006 at 6:45 AM (CDT)


If Creative thinks they are going to steal sales from Apple this way, they are completely wrong. If Apple loses and cannot sell iPods with the same interface anymore, they could easily make the same current iPods with a different interface.

Posted by Bonk on May 16, 2006 at 7:16 AM (CDT)


“...and in other news tonight, second-rate electronics vendor Creative Labs has announced that they are re-branding the company to be more in line with their new business model.

The company will now be called ‘Litigious Labs’.”

Posted by didymos! on May 16, 2006 at 7:46 AM (CDT)


Like any big company which has had prior knowledge that this was likely to happen, I am sure that Apple has contingency plans available just in case the unthinkable happens. A new version of iPod updater with some new software, if they lose, and the whole thing goes away. But, Apple has a corporate ego and they would not like to have such a situation forced on them. Interesting times!

Posted by drevo on May 16, 2006 at 7:46 AM (CDT)


/me wonders how many of the rabidly anti-Creative Apple fanboys commenting to this story would have exactly the opposite reaction if Apple had been awarded the patent instead.

Whether it’s a bad patent or not is for the courts to decide. What people should keep in mind is that Apple would have done exactly the same thing. In fact, Apple would probably have launched dozens of lawsuits simultaneously against any manufacturer no matter how small that might have infringed upon the patent. Apple is who threated companies with the name “Pod” or “Ped” or anything even remotely similar for their name or the name of a product. Apple is a sue-happy as any corporation.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on May 16, 2006 at 8:00 AM (CDT)


I think that some of the people weighing in on this discussion have short term memory loss. If you refer back to the comments on the Apple vs Apple lawsuit. Everyone thought that it would be a slam dunk for Apple Corps. As the trial played out we found out that there was a legal agreement that Apple computer wouldn’t have anything to do with the music business, (not a direct quote) Now the trial judge has told Apple Corps they must pay all of Apple computers legal fee’s. Creative Labs is following down this same path they will probably lose the lawsuit and then not only have to pay their own legal fees but they will also have to pay Apple’s legal fee’s also. The legal arguement will come down to the legality of the patent.

Posted by sleeptech on May 16, 2006 at 8:08 AM (CDT)


Let’s see: Creative has lost money every single quarter for almost two years. Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo took his company disasteriously close to ruin by committing mammoth advertising budgets that were designed to unseat Apple and didn’t, flooded the market with so many different players that none have taken hold, never supported and then ultimately ditched the Creative Zen Touch which was touted as their flagship player and in the process alienated untold thousands of Creative customers,lost market share in the MP3 category and then threw a major hissy fit when Apple scored a major deal with flash memory chips, and has now decided to attempt legal means to somehow make a dent in Apple. I think that it might be time for a change in the Creative Executive suite over in Singapore. Isn’t there a Creative Board of Directors or does Sim have compromising pictures of you guys with Yaks? with

Posted by Slats325 on May 16, 2006 at 8:42 AM (CDT)


<<<Umm, let’s see, they pretty much stole the iPod Video’s design with the Zen Vision M AND claim that the interface is theirs?>>>

Actually, not possible as the Zen Vision M came out too soon after the 5G iPod for Creative to copy the 5G iPod. This comment is utter nonsense especially since the ZVM is better than the iPod. Oh, and I am a satisfied iPod owner as well, but I call it as I see it: other than the Rio Karma, the Creative ZVM is the best MP3 player yet released. Apple may top it next time, but not right now.

As for the lawsuit, I think it’s an lame attempt by a company who has its collective marketing head up its butt to claw away at Apple’s market share. I don’t believe they have inferior products, indeed, if sound quality is your primary criteria, their quality has always blown away the iPod’s. It’s all about marketing and Creative dropped the ball.

Posted by Margk on May 16, 2006 at 9:39 AM (CDT)


OK… this is a real problem for Apple. I am not one of those who say creative hasn’t got a chance. They do have a chance and a very good one because they have the patent and that puts them in the winning seat. The iPod won’t die cause there are iPods sold in other countries besides the USA. It’s just americans who won’t get it anymore. And about Creative winning this… well it sucks and it’s not fair if they do, but juries and judges have been fooled before, so i’m not so sure Apple can win this one.

Posted by Just me on May 16, 2006 at 9:45 AM (CDT)


I’m a HUGE Apple fan, and I love my iPod, but with all due respects from Patents, the Creative Nomad was the first Hard Drive based MP3 player.  (The patent is to allow to select music while the player is playing BTW, not just the organisation of the menu as well). 

They did come out with it first, and for patents to be valid, you must defend your patents.  Apple is a lititious (sp?) comp any and rightly so, because they want to keep their patents.  So before you jump on Creative (I fear I have to defend them), remember Apple does the same things to other companies.  Apple is not usually the first to the market (MP3 players, Video players, and such), but they certainly do it well and have mindshare.  Let’s not mistaken market share for first to market and patents.

Posted by Yung Dai on May 16, 2006 at 11:10 AM (CDT)


Guys, relax.

Even if this does go to court (Apple will most likely settle before this gets anywhere near), does anyone seriously think the outcome in either favor will in any shape or form affect Creative, Apple or us, the consumers?  All it will do is make a bunch of lawyers a bit richer.

So this latest lawsuit is nothing more than a PR campaign for Creative.  I, for one, wish them luck trying to take a bite out of Steve Jobs’ apple (pun intended).  Creative’s products sell because of more than just name recognition, and they could use all the attention and publicity they can get.  After all, healthy competition drives progress.

Posted by Chahk on May 16, 2006 at 11:16 AM (CDT)


I agree that it’s a bit shady to copy a company’s navigation interface, then get the patent on it before the company you copied gets the patent on it, and then sue the company that you copied in the first place.
At the same time, how can anyone own a patent on an interface that is simply the logical way to do it—what’s the losing company going to have to do, use a non-alphabetical setup that reads right-to-left instead of left-to-right? How else should companies set up their interface? When Steve Jobs said Apple needed Microsoft to become a competetor, I’m sure he expected they’d use a similar interface. It only makes sense.
My second “at the same time:” if Apple was suing Creative over copying their interface (which Creative did, only they have the patent so it makes the copying legal), I’d imagine most people here would be saying “go get ‘em Apple!” I don’t think the interface should be protected or owned by anyone: every interface should differ—within reason—but there’s only so many changes a company can make.

Posted by TD on May 16, 2006 at 11:56 AM (CDT)


Quote: “My second ‘at the same time:’ if Apple was suing Creative over copying their interface (which Creative did, only they have the patent so it makes the copying legal), I’d imagine most people here would be saying ‘go get ‘em Apple!’ ...”

TD, first of all do some research.  You will see that Apple in fact “borrowed” UI concepts from other players.  I’m not saying Creative invented it either, but far be it from Apple to claim they did.

Second of all, I’ll save you the trouble of “if”.  When the ZVM was announced these same people were b****ing and moaning how Creative “stole” from iPod’s design.  Back then not one of them was saying how “obvious” the player’s design is.  Now the tables have turned, it seems.

Posted by Chahk on May 16, 2006 at 12:20 PM (CDT)


Chahk—do some _reading._
I said, “how can anyone own a patent on [such] an interface?”
I didn’t say Apple created it. Just that they used the logical alphabetical interface, and Creative copied that same, logical interface.

Posted by TD on May 16, 2006 at 1:27 PM (CDT)


TD, I was referring to this comment: “which Creative did, only they have the patent so it makes the copying legal”.  It sounded like you were saying Creative copied it from Apple.  Apologies if I misread it.

Anyways, my point is that it doesn’t matter who copied what from where and Creative is suing Apple only for sheer PR value.  Hey, it worked for that 3rd grader a few weeks back.

Posted by Chahk on May 16, 2006 at 4:01 PM (CDT)


Creative needs to go back to the lab and CREATE something someone actually wants instead of chasing this bullsh*t!

Posted by Frank Z on May 16, 2006 at 4:25 PM (CDT)


I am so sick of this Asian Based Creative company and its self appointed evil empire ceo sing wong hoo hore! Let’s face it, apple is an american company, and creative is an ugly asian company. Which do you want to “buy” from, beauty or the beast??? We will use the cheap asian labor when we want to, and let us american companies reap all the profits from your toils. Nobody will ever make a something better than the ipod, or itunes music store until the next 400 years period. I wouldn’t buy something with CREATIVE on it if it was the last thing left on earth…..

Posted by itstime on May 16, 2006 at 8:02 PM (CDT)


Creative needs to get a damn grip here. Go back to hell.

Honestly, I hate it when companies use the court because they are “behind” another person in their topic area.

I just patented webpages with an a in them. I am going to go around and sue the people who have that in their name. Websites have to start honoring company intellectual rights. O_o

Posted by Cole on May 16, 2006 at 9:30 PM (CDT)

Page 3 of 4 pages  < 1 2 3 4 > 

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter


Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter


iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2014 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy