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Creative Sues Apple 423

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the who-says-we-aren't-a-litigious-society dept.
E IS mC(Square) writes "Looks like Apple's legal problems are not yet over. ZDNet reports that Creative has sued Apple over their iPod interface. From the article: 'Creative Technology said Monday that it has filed two legal actions against Apple Computer, charging the popular iPod infringes on its patented technology. ... In both cases, Creative says that the iPod and iPod Nano infringe on a patent the company has for the interface in its Zen media player, a patent granted last August.'"
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Creative Sues Apple

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  • sweet (Score:3, Funny)

    by SpaceballsTheUserNam (941138) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:31AM (#15340442)
    Finally the cruel injustice wrought on Creative will finally be rectified.
  • Sad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's sad, but it's becoming a predictable reality that corporations prefer to litigate rather than innovate. It's especially true of companies who are circling the drain. (SCO, anyone?)
    • Re:Sad (Score:2, Insightful)

      "It's sad, but it's becoming a predictable reality that corporations prefer to litigate rather than innovate."

      It's also sad that corporations would rather imitate rather than innovate. Hard to say which is worse, really.
      • Re:Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DeadPrez (129998) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:06AM (#15340558) Homepage
        It depends on your definition of imitate. For example, I don't mind that all consumer cars have four wheels.
        • Re:Sad (Score:3, Insightful)

          "It depends on your definition of imitate. For example, I don't mind that all consumer cars have four wheels."

          No no, of course not. But we all shake our pitchforks when the debate about Microsoft vs. Apple vs. Xerox comes up.
        • Re:Sad (Score:2, Interesting)

          >all consumer cars have four wheels

          Not necessarily!

          How about the Reliant Robin [wikipedia.org]?

      • Re:Sad (Score:3, Insightful)

        by localman (111171)
        Seems easy to say which is worse. Imitation is great... it means we get various refined versions of a new idea and people can choose. The public usually benefits. This is what progress is all about: incremental improvements building on the ideas of others.

        Litigation on the other hand is just a way to squash competition without benefiting anyone but the litigant. It's a crap business tactic and a sign of a company who fears they can't add to the mix.

        And FYI I'm no Apple fanboy... I think iTunes DRM sucks
        • iTunes DRM (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jdbartlett (941012) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:26AM (#15342160)
          I don't want to start a flamewar over this, but why does the iTunes DRM especially 'suck'? As a consumer, I agree that DRM is generally a bad thing, but as DRMs go, FairPlay is pretty friendly:

          You can play your track on up to five computers (and as many iPods as you like) at any one time.

          You can cancel computers individually or reset your DRM account if you hit the 5 computer mark and are unable to play your music on a new computer. (Handy if you didn't get the chance to deauthorize your computer due to system failure).

          You can burn CDs of the music you buy.

          The underlying format, AAC, sounds good even at 128kbps. Not OGG good, I'll admit, but good enough for personal use.

          Also, how can a DRM be open? An open DRM would be unprotectable, which sort of defeats the point! It'd be nice if the Big Boys were that dumb. Maybe you mean licensed, so other media players could play FairPlay protected files? Right now, the only system I have that can't play iTunes purchases (without circumventing the DRM) is Linux.
      • Re:Sad (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Decker-Mage (782424)
        {Sigh} In this case, I'd rather see Creative given a collective wedgie. In case you didn't know, the patent involved here has to do with the playlist. The way the playlist is implemented in both players is the only obvious way I can see to do it and thus falls into the patent domain of an obvious technology which means the damn patent shouldn't have been implemented in the first place. BTW, under the Creative patent every player on the desktop is also in violation but they don't have deep pockets nor are
        • by thebdj (768618)
          In case you didn't know, the patent involved here has to do with the playlist. The way the playlist is implemented in both players is the only obvious way I can see to do it and thus falls into the patent domain of an obvious technology which means the damn patent shouldn't have been implemented in the first place.

          I've said it once and I will say it again: "This is not how obviousness works!"

          So before posting this or that is obvious, please read the laws before making a fool out of yourself.
      • "It's also sad that corporations would rather imitate rather than innovate. Hard to say which is worse, really."

        Flamebait? You've got to be kidding! How many times have we heard the phrase "iPod killer"?
    • It's especially true of companies who are circling the drain.

      While not specifically mentioned - Creative is hardly 'circling the drain': sales in FY05 were US$1.2B.

  • Last August? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thecampbeln (457432) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:32AM (#15340445) Homepage
    Ok, I know that patents can take a while to get thru the maze that is the US patent office, and I also know of submarine patents [wikipedia.org], but does Prior Art mean anything anymore?
    • Re:Last August? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by OverlordQ (264228) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:33AM (#15340447) Journal
      The key word there is granted, not submitted.
      • Re:Last August? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by thecampbeln (457432)
        I know, hence my mention of submarine mazes (or whatever I said, I can't remember ;)

        But really, I must agree with another poster (AC or no) [slashdot.org]: "...it's becoming a predictable reality that corporations prefer to litigate rather than innovate."

        • Re:Last August? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          You really should read the case history here before assuming it lacks merit. Creative DID innovate and it was (rather blatantly) stolen.

          Hell, Apple even stole the name "Nano" from Creative. They launched the Zen Nano 5-6 months before Apple even had a press release introducing their forthcoming Nano.

          Given slashdot's general Apple lovefest, though, I doubt many will call this what it is: Microsoftian behavior.

          Innovate or get the hell out of the way, but don't steal so damn blatantly.
        • Re:Last August? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:23AM (#15340612)
          If they submitted the patent before Apple started using the disputed aspects of it, then how is it a submarine patent? A submarine patent is one that's submitted, granted, and then quietly sat on by the holder until the covered tech has gained widespread adoption - then and only then do they start enforcing it, knowing that

          a) there are lots of targets
          b) it'll be much more painful to remove/do without the patented tech than just pay-up

          See for example the .gif patent.
          • Re:Last August? (Score:5, Informative)

            by N Monkey (313423) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @03:42AM (#15340776)
            IANAPL but...
            If they submitted the patent before Apple started using the disputed aspects of it, then how is it a submarine patent? A submarine patent is one that's submitted, granted...
            No, I believe you are incorrect. My understanding is that, before the US cleaned up their patent laws, a submarine patent was one that was filed but not granted. The old laws allowed a patent to be tweaked multiple times effectively delaying the grant pretty much indefinitely. An unscrupulous person/company could thus tune a patent to cause the most havoc when he/they effectively chose to get it granted.

            Thankfully, the USPTO is a bit more like the rest of the world so this practice should now have stopped.
    • Well, as another poster pointed out, this patent was filed back when Clinton was in office, so the iPod would not be considered Prior Art. When people say the patent office is slow, they don't mean it can takes a few months for them to give a patent a rubber stamp of approval. It has to take just long enough so that if an independent inventor (you know, like the ones the patent system was designed to help) were to try to patent something, they would have long been run out of business and starved to death
  • by dilvish_the_damned (167205) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:33AM (#15340450) Journal
    a patent granted last August.
    I hate patents as much as the next guy who isnt recieving royalties. But I am guessing the patent in question might have been applied for years ago. How long does this process take?
    • by enitime (964946) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @03:11AM (#15340716)
      "But I am guessing the patent in question might have been applied for years ago."

      Patent No. 6,928,433 [uspto.gov] was filed in January 2001. Before the iPod was unveiled in October.

      The site isn't available at the moment (Maximum number of users has been reached.) but it looked like a fairly typical old-method-but-for-new-technology patent. You know the type... "auction bidding... but on the Internet!".

      • Or in this case, "doing stuff ... on a portable device"
      • The patent was applied for Jan 5 2001, the iPod came out in October 2001, but iTunes (which has a substantially similar UI) came out Jan 9 2001. I'd be surprised if Apple didn't have internal iPod prototypes substantially earlier than the release date.

        This all assumes it's a valid patent, isn't obvious, and is sufficiently similar to the iPod's UI (which I doubt). It's not like Creative's players were lauded for usability.
    • by FirienFirien (857374) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @03:13AM (#15340722) Homepage
      Usually years, somewhere around 3-4 on average. Stick a random number between 5,500,000 and 7,000,000 (1996-2006, ish) into the USPTO numsearch page [uspto.gov] and compare the granted date (top right) to the date of filing (usually the last line in the third info-section) if you want to have a play.

      It takes such a long time because they have to be reviewed by patent examiners, compared to prior art to make sure they're not infringing, which includes referring to patents not in the patent referral list (you'll see in a lot of patents that the inventor compares and contrasts his application with previous patents, to clarify the differences). It usually has to be sent back and corrected, sits in a waiting queue whenever it's in the patent office's hands, suffer any delays the submitter wants or has; the list goes on. It's a tedious process that I think we saw an article about last week, since the workload of patent reviewers is simply too high; it all contributes to major delays. Compare with older patents - the few around 4M I checked took between a year and two years.
  • by Sose5000 (261728) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:34AM (#15340456) Homepage
    If you can't beat them, sue them.. And give me 33%.
  • Wha...? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mizhi (186984) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:36AM (#15340458) Homepage
    I haven't followed MP3 player chronology very closely. Didn't the iPod come out before the Zen player?

    And if this patent was granted last August, why wait until now to sue?

    Seems to me that creative is just ticked they got trounced in a market they originally had been doing well in.
    • Re:Wha...? (Score:4, Funny)

      by dilvish_the_damned (167205) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:55AM (#15340520) Journal
      'worked for SCO...
    • Re:Wha...? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kegon (766647)

      Didn't the iPod come out before the Zen player?

      OK, picture this: I have an idea for a music player and submit a patent application. A larger company launches a product based on a similar idea 4 months later. My company takes 6 months to get the product ready and launch. Maybe the large company filed their own patent just after mine but it's still in the patent application process waiting to be assessed like mine.

      why wait until now to sue?

      Who said they waited ? Sometimes these things take a long ti

    • Re:Wha...? (Score:5, Informative)

      by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @04:28AM (#15340871) Homepage
      Creative first released their Nomad Jukebox products in early 2000:
      http://www.mp3newswire.net/stories/2000/createjuke .html [mp3newswire.net]

      The first iPod came out on October 23, 2001.

      The Nomad Zen was a late 2002 product:
      http://www.mp3newswire.net/stories/2002/nomadzen.h tml [mp3newswire.net]

      Posters here already have identified the Creative patent as being one they filed on January 5, 2001. That was probably early in the design cycle for the Zen players, but before they actually were released.

      I for one am glad to see Creative finally prosecuting Apple for all the technology they stole. Clearly Apple has been taking ideas from the superior Nomad products for quite some time now, and that's the only way they've been able to build the obviously derivative user interface used on the iPod.

      (Note to self: turn down sarcasm knob a notch)
    • Re:Wha...? (Score:5, Informative)

      by calciphus (968890) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @04:55AM (#15340945)
      No, the iPod did not come out before the Creative's "high capacity" units. Creative's large storage mp3 players were on the market for almost 18 months before the iPod was publically announced, and with an interface that was almost identical to the "revolutionary" iPod interface. At the time, Zens were available in 5 and 10GB - while the iPod was 10, 15, and later 20.

      The iPod was slimer, used a li-poly battery (instead of lithium-ion, resulting in many upset users) and the "click-wheel" technology, rather than traditional buttons. Other than that, they were about the same.

      And the patent for the "hierarchical" (and lets face it, really really obvious) way of organizing music on a mobile player is what they're settling on. The filing date is much earlier, though it was pushed back and re-examined many times. That whole "Artist->Album->Song" method? Creative "invented" it, and God help you if you try and use it yourself in a mobile player and subsequently gain market share over them. Nevermind that it's the fundamental way that files have been stored and sorted on computers since...well...since we left punch cards behind, slapping "mobile" on the patent makes it new! So does slapping "online" apparently...

      They sued now because prior to this, they'd been in negotiations with Apple for an out-of-court settlement for patent infringement. Apple finally flat out refuesd (on the grounds that the patent was "bullshit"), and left Creative little other options for taking their slice of someone else's pie. They'll probably hope that after a bit of bad press and a seemingly losing battle, Apple will decide to settle just to get on with it. Hopefully Apple won't cave, because as much as I hate those stupid white headphones, I hate patent mongering more.
  • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto&connexer,com> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:37AM (#15340459) Homepage

    ... for the interface in its Zen media player, a patent granted last August.

    I thought that patent protection had changed. Instead of 17 years from issuance, it is now 20 years from first application. I am pretty certain I read about that change taking place in order to stop people from milking the system by filing an application and then repeatedly ammending it, effectively lengethening the period of protection.

    So the bigger question is, "When was the application filed?"

  • by popo (107611) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:42AM (#15340480) Homepage

    I firmly believe the only way for us to be free of the insanities of the patent system
    is going to be for things to get so unbearable for the big players ... that *they*
    start clamoring for reform.

  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:43AM (#15340484) Homepage
    Not very surprising. Will probably be modded flamebait, but..

    Creative is used to having a hold on their market and killing off competition (ie, SoundStorm) by buying out companies or technologies they depend on. The result is them making sub-quality products and incremental upgrades that are *just* good enough for people to bother, and selling them for top dollar. And then shafting the customer with bad support on all but their latest product line.

    So I can see why they don't know how to play fair and compete. They don't know how to handle Apple any other way.
    • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:08AM (#15340568)
      In more recent history, they patented (John) Carmack's Reverse [wikipedia.org] rendering technique, and then used it against id [techreport.com] to force them to include EAX functionality in the Doom3 engine.
    • I can't speak for Creative's past as I know nothing of it. I can say that my Creative Zen Vision:M is one slick ass MP3 player that pounds my iPod into dust. A Creative Zen plus Rhapsody's all you can eat MP3 service is one kick ass combination. Personally, I think that this shows simply that competetion is good and can serve as a swift kick in the ass to get companies into gear and make decent products.
    • Exactly my thoughts on the matter. Never done this before but here it is.. so begins my official boycott on Creative. Not that it makes any real difference to them as I buy one of their products every few years at a push but makes me feel better!

      Screw you Creative.
    • This is essentially the same as Apple's equally dubious patent [uspto.gov] on... well, exactly the same thing. They both claim to have invented an interface for hierarchical browsing of media files.

      I guess they don't know how to handle Creative any other way?

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @05:45AM (#15341066) Journal
      Creative innovated too. Show me who did they copy the original SoundBlaster from, for example. I also think technically they invented the HDD-based MP3 player, _before_ Apple.

      And more importantly the tended to offer products that offer a good bang-per-buck balance. Yes, it's easy to do the "bah, but <insert pro card costing 500$> sounded better or had lower latency" sneer, but from a more pragmatic point of view, Creative did an outstanding job of bridging the gap between pro equipment and the utter crap everyone else was selling.

      It's pretty telling that even though virtually any modern motherboard comes with some Realtec or some such sound solution, people still buy SoundBlasters. Because invariably those on-board solutions sound like crap. The signal-to-noise ratio is invariably crap, and often they tend to squeak too whenever anything happened on the bus. Pretty much they amplify any noise and EM interference in the system together with the signal. And having actually tried some, let me assure you that the sound boards based on those Realtek, Cirrus Logic and whatnot chips don't sound any better.

      I even went and bought an USB soundcard/headphones combo from Plantronics in my misguided days of trying to boycott Creative, and, honestly, for all the hype about USB being better because of not picking up EM stuff inside the computer, it actually sounded the worst. It was more of a white noise generator than anything else. _And_ it offered _nothing_ except a DAC on the USB bus. There was no way to get any effects out of it, in games or otherwise. There was not even any way to hook it to anything else (e.g., to speakers). Looking back in retrospect, it was just a waste of money, as eventhe lowest end Creative cards cost a lot less and I already had better headphones too.

      And a lot of those supposedly better-than-Creative sound cards were just a case of fanboyism and Amiga persecution syndrome. E.g., I've actually had an Aureal Vortex based card -- you know, _the_ one that got everyone up in arms along the lines of "waah!! Creative killed Aureal Vortex!! They're evil!!" -- and frankly it wasn't half as great as it sounded on paper. All that reflection processing and whatnot, sure, sounded like a major technical achievement. In practice most of the time it just made it impossible to tell where the sound is coming from, or WTH did they think it reflected on over there to sound actually louder from there than the original sound. I.e., from the perspective of a gamer who lived or died by hearing the enemy's footsteps or gunfire, it actually was a bigger disadvantage than those no-frills DAC-on-a-card cards.

      And so on.

      Yes, I know it's slashdot and it's good for your karma to sneer at any corporation -- as long as it's not Apple --, not to mention to rehash variants of the same "alas, the only way to get ahead is to be a monopolist" fatalism and defeatism. But I'll go ahead and say that they (A) innovated plenty, and (B) at least in the sound card market, actually offered good bang/buck.

      Where they lost it in the MP3 player market was being utterly clueless about user interfaces and, again, they got beaten in the bang/buck arena. Where Apple got ahead wasn't being the only ones who innovated, but in having an all around good product and placed just right. There were plenty who had ideas before Apple, believe it or not, and there were plenty who had one extra gimmic or advantage over the iPod. Where they failed was invariably having more disadvantages to make up for that. Some were a LOT bigger than an iPod (I still remember some, e.g., Archos ones which were bigger than a 3" hard drive!), some were actually a lot more expensive in the name of some gimmick noone needed, some had a crap user interface, and so on.

      Creative's players, for example, tended to be both bigger _and_ have a crap interface, and some had other faults too. It wasn't lack of innovation, it was simply a combination of a flawed perception of the market and flawed execution.

      Basically let's st
  • Browsing data (Score:5, Informative)

    by stivi (534158) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:46AM (#15340493) Homepage
    The column view (browser view) has been in NeXTSTEP [kernelthread.com] since 1989. Apple acquired NeXT in the mid-90s. I do not say that Apple holds patent on it nor invented it (Xerox Smalltalk class browser?). I just want to say, that the column has been here for a while and it was somehow related to Apple too.

    Moreover! Filtering data using a column view is also quite old. It has been used in data-warehousing as way of drilling-down [webopedia.com]. In the music player it is nothing more, nothing less: it is drilling-down through your song database. Just ask Bill Inmon or Ralph Kimball :-) It is the same to drill-down by region, store and date or by genre, artist and album. They are just different terms.
    • Re:Browsing data (Score:5, Informative)

      by zephc (225327) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:49AM (#15340502)
      yup, and the column view even goes back to the Apple Lisa http://www.pegasus3d.com/apple_screens/Dec1980.gif [pegasus3d.com]
      • Re:Browsing data (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jcr (53032)
        the column view even goes back to the Apple Lisa

        It's earlier than that. Mark Miller invented the Miller-column browser when he was working on the Xanadu project in the late 1970's.

        -jcr
    • Wow, did you just post that on macrumors.com too? that looks oh so familiar......its like word for word....

      LOL

    • The column view (browser view) has been in NeXTSTEP since 1989.
      Oh, sure, column view is old hat. But a column-view MP3 player? Now that's original thinking. I mean, that takes the same level of genius as wireless email.

      • by timotten (5411) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:27AM (#15340628) Homepage
        Oh, sure, column view is old hat. But a column-view MP3 player? Now that's original thinking.

        And it's genius, too. I was riding on the subway the other day, listening to some tunes, bopping my head -- I had my headphones on, and I was carrying my NeXTstation under my right arm. (The monitor goes in my backpack.) Perfectly normal, right? Well, everyone was staring at my NeXTstation. Those things are hot and heavy. Anyway, it felt awkward (though a little kinky) to have everyone staring at my NeXTstation. The genius of Creative's MP3 player is that it gives you that great column view, but it fits in your pocket, so you don't have to deal with the awkwardness of people jealously eying your NeXTstation.
        • Ooh... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Jaxoreth (208176)
          The genius of Creative's MP3 player is that it gives you that great column view, but it fits in your pocket, so you don't have to deal with the awkwardness of people jealously eying your NeXTstation.
          So... can I have your NeXTstation once you get an MP3 player?

    • Except Apple will have difficultly arguing "prior art", because they have patented something very similar.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @01:53AM (#15340513)
    I think it's telling the Creative Nomad navigation referred to has been renamed the 'Zen Patent' (their current line) by Creative. Along with going only after Apple at this point (other makers have similar navigation), it seems like sour grapes to me. Creative CEO Sim Wong has repeatedly shown he has no idea how to manage this space, publically bad mouthing Apple, while Creative sales slide and profits sink. Finally when Creative decides to do TV spots, this is what they come up with??? http://www.creative.com/tvc/ [creative.com]
    • while Creative sales slide and profits sink

      Creative profits may have shrunk last year [creative.com] as a result of writeoffs due to acquisitions, sales are not shrinking at all.

  • My bet: after four rounds it will be 2:2 and they will solve it out of court.

    And in the same time, I welcome our ligitation overlords...Ohh crap, I think I will go to China.
  • The Actual Patent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:01AM (#15340546)
    After a little searching, I believe this is the patent.

    United States Patent 6,928,433
    Goodman , et al. August 9, 2005
    Automatic hierarchical categorization of music by metadata

    Abstract

    A method, performed by software executing on the processor of a portable music playback device, that automatically files tracks according to hierarchical structure of categories to organize tracks in a logical order. A user interface is utilized to change the hierarchy, view track names, and select tracks for playback or other operations.
    Inventors: Goodman; Ron (Santa Cruz, CA); Egan; Howard N. (Capitola, CA)
    Assignee: Creative Technology LTD (Singapore, SG)
    Appl. No.: 755723
    Filed: January 5, 2001
    • by mveloso (325617) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:15AM (#15340591)
      To see why this patent is invalid, do the following:

      * substitute 'classes' for 'tracks'
      * substitute 'methods' for 'names'
      * substitute 'computer' for 'music playback device'

      And suddenly you have the classic Smalltalk object browser. This patent will be whacked in court, just like the uncrustables patent was denied by the USPTO. The USPTO said that uncrustables were basically big breakfast ravioli. Unfortunately, the examiner wasn't well-versed enough in the computer field (ie: he probably doesn't even know how to spell Smalltalk), so granted this one.

      Applying the same old cookie cutter to a new kind of dough isn't a valid patent, even if the examiner thinks it is.
    • by sane? (179855) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:27AM (#15340626)
      That is what I found, although mention is made of two patents. Maybe its just a followup patent that companies usually file to carve out a bigger segment of patentspace?

      Face it, this is an obvious menu system based on obvious metadata. The problem here is it should never have been granted a patent in the first place. The patent office has become mired in money making scams in recent decades and the whole system has fallen into disrepute. It serves nobody well.

      • The small inventor has no way of using a patent to protect them since costs are high and costs of protecting the patent are even higher. Any reasonably sized company can grind them into dust in the courts.
      • Companies actually creating virtually anything find there is some spurious over-general patent somewhere that they infringe in putting one piece of plastic next to one piece of metal; so there is an orgy of cross licencing and costs associated. This all takes time and reduces the pace of innovation
      • The public aren't served by ideas being freely available and built upon, because most of the ideas are obvious, the patent tries hard to make it impossible to understand, and if you ever use the information you get slapped with an injunction.

      Oops, sorry, there is one group of people that do well, the lawyers. Strange that.

      Face it. We need a year zero in IP, a fundamental reexamination of why we give any protection at all, and how much is the right amount. We need to accept that all IP to this date is on very shaky ground and that the simplest approach is to wipe the slate clean. Above all, we need to make it a criminal offence for a company to attempt to buy laws. How many of our problems can be traced back to corporate/politician corruption? Maybe the best solution is to extract a written guarantee from anyone standing in the midterms that they will ensure IP laws are scaled back? Make it an issue.

      A jihad against lawyers wouldn't be a bad idea either.

      • Re:The Actual Patent (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Decker-Mage (782424)
        A jihad against lawyers wouldn't be a bad idea either.

        Actually I came across that once in a Science-Fiction novel: "First Citizen". by some statistical quirk, a whole bunch of lawyers turned up dead in various ways on April 1 of that year. The notion took with the public and ever after April 1 was no longer April Fools day, it became Lawyers Day whereupon open season was declared on lawyers for that one day. Sounds like a good idea here!

      • Face it. We need a year zero in IP, a fundamental reexamination of why we give any protection at all, and how much is the right amount. We need to accept that all IP to this date is on very shaky ground and that the simplest approach is to wipe the slate clean.

        An obvious solution would be to sabotage the USPTO. Say, set the building on fire or something. Or perhaps simply switch the regualar coffee shipments with decaf. Or perhaps the best method is for Slashdotters to simply flood the USPTO's mail and emai
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:16AM (#15340593)
    I'm posting AC because I don't want anyone to get into trouble. Anyways, this is the story I heard.

    Jobs had the creative pres in his office. Apple was going to have creative make the original ipod. Conversation went something along these lines.

    Jobs: We like the idea of the nomad jukebox, but it's really ugly.
    Creative pres: Apples suck.
    Creative apple lover: Boss you just told jobs apple sucked!

    A few months later the peon got fired, then rehired to work the booths at fry's electronics. He had a really good position at creative before this, but supposidly inside creative it is a very PC (personal computer, not politically correct) enviroment. Basically anyone even breathing the word Apple gets the shaft.

    True story, might have gotten some facts wrong but it pretty much sums it up.
  • by n6mod (17734) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @02:23AM (#15340614) Homepage
    Lots of people are referring to the column browser in NeXTstep (or the Lisa). That's all fine and good, but probably irrelavent.

    What is much more relavent as prior art is the empeg car. That had hierarchical playlist menus in '99, which beats the priority date for this patent by a year.

    However, that IP is now held by SigmaTel, and their largest customers are Creative and Apple (no idea which order)

    Prior art doesn't have to be held by the defendant in a patent suit...it just has to exist. This patent won't hold, and I'm a little surprised that Creative doesn't know better.
  • I hate Creative (Score:3, Informative)

    by Polybius (743489) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @03:02AM (#15340694)
    Reminds me of the time Creative sued Aureal for making A3D compatible with EAX. Aureal won the case but the cost of defending themselves ended up bankrupting the company. Next they bought Sensaura who provided nVidia, VIA, etc. with 3D support (soundstorm for nForce2) and killed the technology. They have done everything in their power to protect their precious EAX even though it is inferior to traditional home theatre suround sound.

    Luckily Auzentech is growing and their technology is improving greatly. The Auzentech Xplosion 7.1 does Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect. This card sounds incredibly better than any Creative card I have ever heard.

  • by daBass (56811) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @03:16AM (#15340726)
    At least, that is my theory.

    I really doubt this is a money-grab-patent-trolling attempt, rather it is more likely Creative wants access to iTunes as settlement. That means being able to use Creative's players in iTunes and also the players being able to play FairPlay protected content.

    If that is what Creative is gunning for, then I hope they get what they want as it would be a good thing for all of us.
  • Creative=Screwed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tootired (91527) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @04:59AM (#15340953) Homepage
    Forget about the obvious Apple patents on the same interface ideas. Forget about the fact that the creative interface has been in a state of flux for over five years.

    Forget about the fact that the iPod's interface has remained constant (and nothing like the patent in question) since inception.

    Just sit and laugh at the marketing retardation that is Creative. Right now they manufacture and sell TWENTY-FOUR mp3 player models. Each model has multiple sizes as well. Haven't they heard of brand dilution?

    It's a business's duty to thrive by any means necessary, but i think they may have bit off more than they can chew with the Apple fight and with their overcrowded mp3 lineup.

    Sorry for the spelling and grammar, been at work for 21 hours. Only 13 more to go :)

  • by EcoPark (972505) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @05:36AM (#15341041)
    Apple has decided to scap it's entire product line and bring out new versions of the I-Pod shuffle in 30 and 60Gb versions. They might also bring out a new Nano without a screen. Company spokesperson said " We fixed the cracking screen issue on the Nano and we're not infringing on Creative's interface patent anymore" They then continued to launch a new portable transportation device called i-skates. Company spokesperson commented: " Hey, If we managed to create a brand new market for modern day walkmans, then surely we can do it for rollerskates as well!"
  • by babbling (952366) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @07:41AM (#15341407)
    Patents don't scale. There is a limited number of viable solutions to most problems. When the population gets bigger, and bigger... the likelyhood of someone having patented all of the solutions to a problem increases. The end result is that some problems are impossible to solve for 20 years unless you pay someone a license fee, that is, if they're willing to license their patent.

    The patent system will eventually make progress impossible and be removed, but it is going to impede progress for years and years before that happens.
  • by lergnom (975212) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:27AM (#15342166)
    The Supreme Court just rebuked the lower courts for mechanically granting an injunction in a patent infringement case without weighing the equities. In simple english, it is no longer possible for a company to claim they have a valid patent and have a court grant an injunction prohibiting use without essentially having a real trial. This means the plaintiff - Creative, here - has lost a huge amount of leverage because the courts would have to consider the effect of an injunction on Apple's business, its suppliers, its customers. The threat of injunction was a huge club to extort higher cash settlements. Apple can now likely fight this out for many years without seeing any noticeable effect on its business. They will likely consider the cost of defense versus the cost of settlement, but that is now much easier to figure with the threat of imposed shutdown so reduced. Apple may think Creative's suit is garbage and they may want to protect their image of innovation and now they can value the costs of pursuing those goals versus the costs of the lawsuit. Bottom line to Creative: this lawsuit became much harder and much more expensive, with a much lower settlement value.

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