updated 04:25 pm EDT, Mon May 15, 2006
Creative sues Apple
Creative has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission requesting that the Commission institute an investigation of 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." As relief, Creative is seeking an exclusion order and cease and desist order against Apple to prohibit Apple 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 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.
The company said that engineers at Creative's Scotts Valley, California facility 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, including its Zen Vision:M.
About Creative's patent
The patent is for an invention that "provides an efficient user interface for a small portable music player. The invention is suitable for use with a limited display area and small number of controls to allow a user to efficiently and intuitively navigate among, and select, songs to be played. By using the invention, very large numbers of songs can be easily accessed and played," according to the filing at the US Patent office.
Specifically, it describes overlapping categories that would allow for selection of the same song via different categories and for multiple functions assigned to the same device button or control. The patent also calls for organization based on metadata associated with each track as well as internet-based sources such as CDDB as well as the now popular playlists for organizing music.
"The creation of playlists is one technique to organize the playing of songs. A set of songs can be included in a playlist which is given a name and stored. When the playlist is accessed, the set of songs can be played utilizing various formats such as sequential play or shuffle," the company wrote its patent filing.