updated 08:05 am EDT, Wed June 14, 2006
ITC investigates Apple
Creative Technology today announced that the U.S. International Trade Commission has voted to institute an investigation of Apple for the iPod's infringement of U.S. Patent 6,928,433, which Creative refers to as the "ZEN Patent." As noted last month, Creative claims that the ZEN Patent covers the user interface in Creative NOMAD and ZEN portable digital media players as well as those manufactured by Apple, including the iPod, iPod nano and iPod mini. The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Creative Labs, Inc., of Milpitas, CA, and Creative Technology Ltd. of Singapore on May 15, 2006. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain portable digital media players that infringe Creative's ZEN Patent. Creative has requested that the ITC issue a permanent exclusion order and permanent cease and desist order.
By instituting this investigation (337-TA-573), the ITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case. The case will be referred to the Honorable Paul J. Luckern, an ITC administrative law judge, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing, which is typically heard in approximately five to eight months.
Judge Luckern will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337; that initial determination is subject to review by the Commission. Typically the Commission will issue its ruling in 12 to 15 months of the institution of the investigation.
The ITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the ITC will set a target date for completing the investigation.
Apple countersued Creative in federal court in Wisconsin on the same day Creative filed its lawsuit and also filed a second lawsuit, alleging that Creative is infringing three Apple patents relating to using icons, and displaying and editing data.
Similar to Creative's request, Apple is asking for cash damages and a court order to stop Creative from further breaches and is asking the International Trade Commission in Washington to block imports of Creative's music players.