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Author Topic: Creative Sues Apple For IPod Design Patent Infringement  (Read 388 times)

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Creative Sues Apple For IPod Design Patent Infringement
« on: May 17, 2006, 02:03:33 AM »
This one looks like it's for real, with merit.  Looks like Steve got uber-rich same way Bill did, good old fashioned theft.  Not sure they'll be able to prove it.

Lawsuit: iPod violates patent
Rival alleges Apple took player's design after being spurned


Creative Technology Ltd. filed both a lawsuit and a trade commission complaint Monday, demanding that Apple Computer Inc. stop selling its popular iPod digital music players in the United States because they borrow from Creative Technology's patent-protected design.

Singapore's Creative Technology, whose subsidiary Creative Labs is based in Milpitas, makes MP3 players that rival Apple's iPods. Its Zen digital music players, however, are largely overshadowed by the iPod's nearly 80 percent share of the market.

In a complaint filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission, Creative Technology charges that the iPod -- as well as the iPod Nano and iPod Mini -- incorporates a user interface first designed by Creative Technology to make it easy to navigate through thousands of songs stored on the MP3 player. The federal commission, among other duties, rules on intellectual property rights on products that are made internationally and imported to the United States; the iPod is made in China and sold in the United States.

The complaint accuses Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs of getting a look at the design details when he tried to arrange a joint business partnership with Creative Technology. But Apple then "abruptly" changed course and tried to license its technology. Apple also suggested that Creative Technology spin off its digital music player arm into a separate company, allowing Apple to invest in it. When Creative Technology refused, Apple went ahead and introduced the iPod in 2001.

The saga from then on is well-known: The iPod quickly became a sensation. During the most recent holiday season, Jobs said 100 iPods were sold per minute, 24 hours a day. And during the first three months of the year, it sold more than 8.5 million iPods. Its market share has grown to nearly 80 percent this year, according to the NPD Group.

"At this stage of the game, Apple has done so well, it makes it very difficult for Creative Labs and iRiver (and others) to gain any ground," said Tim Bajarin of research firm Creative Strategies.

Creative Technology is asking the trade commission to investigate whether Apple is infringing on its design -- for which it was awarded a patent last year -- and to stop the Cupertino company from selling and marketing its iPods.

Creative Technology also filed a lawsuit Monday against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, where it is demanding that Apple stop infringing on its patent and pay an undisclosed amount in damages.

Creative Technology first hinted last year that it thought Apple was unfairly using its technology in the iPod. It was awarded a patent in August after applying for it in January 2001.

"If I had to make a guess, I don't think Apple can dismiss this claim lightly," said Phil Leigh, a senior analyst with Inside Digital Media. "My reflex reaction is not to dismiss it as an opportunistic play because the look and feel does appear similar."