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Apple Gives In to Absurd Patent Claims 162

Posted by Zonk
from the weird-time-to-get-soft dept.
gottabeme writes Apple has settled with a small Oregon company that claimed patents on simple aspects of iTunes, such as sorting and searching tracks, copying tracks to media players, and just plain choosing a track to play." From the article: "In the 10-page suit, lawyers for Contois said that David Contois, the owner, conceived of and developed a computer interface for playing music on an internal or external computer-responsive music device, which he then exhibited at the 1995 COMDEX trade show and the 1996 NAMM music industry trade show. According to the suit, persons who were at the time employed by or later became employed by Apple were present at both trade shows and viewed Contois' software. The suit charged that Apple later 'copied' the invention and used the design ideas in the interface for iTunes."
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Apple Gives In to Absurd Patent Claims

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  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPaM.mac.com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:38PM (#16028154) Journal
    The submitter is jumping to conclusions. There's nothing here that indicates that they knuckled under at all. They may have just let him off without paying Apple's defense costs.

    -jcr

    • I'm not so sure. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:20PM (#16028289) Homepage
      From linked article from TFA: "The lawsuit was filed in June 2005, and the litigants met in court for a daylong hearing a year later to define terminology and set parameters for future court proceedings. Such hearings in patent cases are considered critical, and Judge William Sessions III issued a ruling July 24 that favored some of Contois' positions over Apple's.

      The parties met the next day to begin discussing a resolution, according to court records. A first session was unsuccessful. A second session, which began at noon Aug. 16 and ended at 3:30 a.m. Aug. 17, led to the settlement. Lawyers filed court papers about the agreement last week, and Sessions dismissed the case. "

      Apple proceeds like any other case like this, expecting an easy win because they honestly believe (I hope) that they've done nothing wrong. But, once rulings start coming back in favor of the other guy, Apple has to look at this and say, "Hey, we're making money hand over fist with iTunes, and this could easily get ugly like Blackberry... only our user base is slightly less addicted and will be angry with us if suddenly, like with Echostar, we have to turn off parts their devices on the next update. So, let's just ask them exactly what they want, and maybe just pay them off."

      First meeting: We want $1 billion dollars!

      Second meeting: Ok, we'll settle for OUR attorney fees, $x00,000, and stock options from Apple to cover future profits.

      SOLD!

      BTW, I think that last meeting went to 3:30am because some lawyer, not thinking, brought in an iBook and everyone wasted hours talking about favorite bands, and checking them out on iTunes.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by pacalis (970205)
        And... Meeting three, patent holders armed with Apple legitimacy, and posibly enjoined by Apple, meet with undisclosed Japanese company, and request additional licensing fees/taxes.
    • This is the same thing that happened with NPT and RIM/Blackberry. It's also how Amazon.com got to patent the 1-click shopping method (though it looks like they might not have that anymore). This has got to end. It's time for patent reform.
  • by abhi_beckert (785219) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:38PM (#16028156)
    Apple didn't even create iTunes, they bought it several versions ago. How many of these "breaches" were developed by the original software team?
    • Interface (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ravenspear (756059) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:52PM (#16028202)
      It seems that the point of contention in this lawsuit was the iTunes interface, which Apple did develop (although probably with the original team who they also acquired in the purchase). iTunes was originally Soundjam MP developed by Connectix. iTunes used the same base code but the interface is significantly different from Soundjam in many aspects.
    • by akheron01 (637033) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:56PM (#16028209) Homepage
      This is correct, Apple bought iTunes from the fantastic, yet sadly now defunct, software company Casady & Greene. Back then it was called SoundJam MP and was a commercial application, and was actually my audio player of choice. Imagine iTunes, only skinnable, and with a separate window for ripping/burning (which is a more Mac like paradigm anyways)! I really miss Casaday & Greene, I absolutely loved their software. They published my #1 favorite game of all time, Glider Pro, which is now available for OS X for free: http://homepage.mac.com/calhoun/Glider%20PRO.html [mac.com]
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Feyr (449684)
        woa i remember playing the demo of that game back when i was young and dumb. ah the memories!
      • iTunes was based on SoundJam, but is vastly different today. You can find a good explanation of the creation of iTunes through the eyes of a competitor to SoundJam here:
        http://panic.com/extras/audionstory/ [panic.com]
      • by soft_guy (534437)
        SoundJam was great. I used to use it with my Rio 500 well before the iPod was introduced. I also love Glider Pro!
      • by ElephanTS (624421)
        I still miss C+G from the old days. Confict catcher? Brilliant stuff.

        I had SoundJam from v1.0 and everyone I knew with a Mac did too. It was the first Mac mp3 player that encoded well and didn't have a CLI. I seem to remember the guy that wrote SJ went to work for Apple and basically wrote iTunes (or lead the development). But, there's a differnence between iTunes and iPod interface so this is a bit OT.
      • Also, whenever a programmer thinks, "Hey, skins, what a cool idea", their computer's speakers should create some sort of cock-shaped soundwave and plunge it repeatedly through their skulls. -- makali

        I fully support your proposed audio-cock technology. -- jwz

        It's bad enough that iTunes isn't using Apple's standard toolkits, let alone Cocoa, so it'll run on Windows... make it skinnable and I'd be forced to fetch the diesel oil and shredded fiberglass.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Apple didn't even create iTunes, they bought it several versions ago.

      Not true. Apple hired the developer of SoundJam, but had him write iTunes from scratch. iTunes looks like SoundJam for the same reason (and to a similar degree) that Windows NT looks like VMS; the same person was responsible for the design of both. They do not share a codebase, however.

  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by chrisxkelley (879631) <chrisxkelley.gmail@com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:40PM (#16028162) Journal
    In other news, Apple is also being sued by Us Playing Cards because the iPod too closely resembles a deck of Bicycle cards.
  • Was the deal (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    We give you some money now for an exclusive license and you agree to file against other infringers?

    AKA: finding a delegate for your dirtywork, or Micro-SCO

  • Scorched earth (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:42PM (#16028169)
    I think between this and the Creative patent, Apple is purposely setting a legal precedent, so other media player makers who aren't as cash-flush will be forced out of business. They don't have the massive bankroll Apple does because they were already less successful than Apple. So in the future, it will become even more difficult to jump to the top. Scorched earth. Dangerous, but brilliant in a really evil way.
    • by dvdave (175509)
      I'm sure this will have a ripple effect on cash-strapped media player makers. MicroSoft will certainly scrap the Zune after this.
    • No legal precident (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sanity (1431) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:53PM (#16028473) Homepage Journal
      I think between this and the Creative patent, Apple is purposely setting a legal precedent
      No legal precedent is set until the court rules on the case. If Apple caves in before that happens, then there is no precedent.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        If Apple caves in before that happens, then there is no precedent.

        There is a precedent; they're purposely setting a very high price for the technology they're stealing so none of the bottom feeders get it.

        It may not be a "legal precedent", but it's still a precedent by definition ("an example that's used to justify similar occurances at a later time").

        If you aren't a lawyer, it's a "legal" precedent too; because it's setting the price to legally use patented technology, which has been set by Apple by means
    • Very possible... but they're also couting on that patent never being thrown out. It's been known to happen, companies paying off a patent troll only to see the patent invalidated -- most recently with the .jpeg patent, if I'm not mistaken. Wonder who'll get chewed up by management if that happens? Especially since there might be prior art on the Amiga system, as one poster has mentioned already? Moral of my rambling: sometimes it might be better to stand and fight.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        If Apple fight and win, then everyone infringing the same patent wins, because the patent is invalidated, but Apple pick up the bill. If they give in, they pay less and everyone else has to pay the same or more. From a purely tactical point of view, it sounds like they made the right choice.
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:43PM (#16028171) Homepage Journal
    Didn't those predate iTunes? You could sort and select stuff and burn things to CDs. not quite as fancy, but some aspects are there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by larry bagina (561269)
      Winamp was first released in 1997. Ditto xmms (or rather, the precursor of it). The patent in question dates back to 1995 (or earlier).

      • by WowTIP (112922) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:30PM (#16028310)
        On the other hand there were lots of music/media players for the Amiga that had at least some of this functionality in the early 90's. No burning, though, probably because cd burners were too expensive.
        • by Carewolf (581105)
          Or maybe because there wasn't even any CD players for Amigas, let alone CD burners, because the Amiga died around the same time CD-ROMs appeared.
          • by tolldog (1571)
            Other than the Amiga CD-32 [wikipedia.org], you would almost be right.
            • CDTV and the A570 (I think the correct number) CDROM Sidecar for the A500 came out long before the CD32. I had both an A570 on an A500 and a standard SCSI cdrom in an A3000.
              • by tolldog (1571)
                I figured there were others as well. :) The main reason I posted was I remembered there was an Amiga with CD in its name.

                My first and last amiga was the 1000. We had the 2 MB memory expansion, the 5.25 drive/IBM emulator and the 3.5 external drive. I don't remember much else about it other than freddy fish disks and shadow of the beast.
          • Or maybe because there wasn't even any CD players for Amigas, let alone CD burners, because the Amiga died around the same time CD-ROMs appeared.

            Defininately untrue. Commodore died in 1994, the Amiga died many years later (and there are probably a handful of holdouts that say it hasn't died yet, though I can't quite see it their way).

            My Amiga's CPU was pretty stressed by MP3 decoding (and my hard disk capacity was still limited to a couple gigabytes), so in the 1990s (probably starting sometime around

  • Go computers. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ""In the 10-page suit, lawyers for Contois said that David Contois, the owner, conceived of and developed a computer interface for playing music on an internal or external computer-responsive music device, which he then exhibited at the 1995 COMDEX trade show and the 1996 NAMM music industry trade show. According to the suit, persons who were at the time employed by or later became employed by Apple were present at both trade shows and viewed Contois' software. The suit charged that Apple later 'copied' the
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:45PM (#16028176) Homepage
    Apple Gives In to Absurd Patent Claims

    You're talking about the company that licensed "1-click" from Amazon. Why are you surprised?
    • by MouseR (3264) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:09PM (#16028250) Homepage
      That's the stupid reality of software patent.

      But the idea of giving in is because, in the end, your lawyers may actually cost more than what the plaintiffs asks and the negative publicity this usually generates eventually gets to the ears of the high shareholders and they dont like it.

      Just like the "exploding Dell laptop" thing. And more recently, the same "Bad Apples" news that keep cropping up.

      It's really Sony's fault. You and I both know that. But Joe Schmoe reading Wall Street Journal might not.
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:18PM (#16028279) Homepage Journal
      This, in addition to another few patent claims involving Apple lately, have begun to make me a bit concerned.

      In the short term, it might seem like it makes sense to "just settle" with a litigant with an absurd or overly broad patent, rather than fighting it. However, I'm not sure this is really a good idea in the long run -- it just invites more people to try the same trick over and over, damning you to a death by a thousand small wounds.

      Compare the difference to IBM's staunch opposition of the SCO lawsuit. I realize that the cases are different, but philosophically they represent very different approaches. IBM seemed to realize, at the very beginning, that even if it cost more to fight SCO's claims than to settle with them, it would be a worthy expenditure, because to settle would be to roll out the Welcome mat to every other numbskull with an axe to grind. Apple seems to be only looking for the immediate cost: will it cost more to fight a particular case, or to settle it?

      I think this might be because, while IBM realizes that it is a giant corporation with impossibly deep pockets, and thus a massive target, Apple has for so long been a relatively small player that it seems they haven't gotten their minds around the fact that a short term loss might be worthwhile, if it headed off similar future attacks.

      I'm not a shareholder in Apple, just someone who's reasonably fond of their products. However, if I was, I'd be very concerned that in making the quick out-of-court settlement their M.O., they're painting a bulls-eye on themselves, which can only get more inviting the bigger and more profitable they get.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 02, 2006 @12:13AM (#16028506)
        They are quite different.
        SCO lawsuit is frivolous and laughable. It does not have any basis and is pretty much a sure win for IBM. IBM's business is in no danger of distruption because of SCO's injuctions.

        OTOH, these lawsuits by Creative and Contois, however, do have a good basis: valid USPTO patents. The fact that they are stupid, obvious patents that should have not been granted in the first place is beside the point. To make a good defense, Apple must get these patents invalidated, a process that takes a very long time and does not guarantee a positive outcome for Apple. In the meantime, Creative and Contois could have asked injuctions that cut into Apple's business core: iTunes Music Store and iPod. Not only would they lose their profit, the absence in the market would have opened a door for others to take over. Apple's accountants must have thought it was cheaper to settle and if Apple did a similar settlement as the one with Creative, Apple can turn these patents to their advantage without getting their hands dirty. Brilliant tactics, though it does leave a bad taste in the mouth.
      • by killjoe (766577)
        What is IBM being sued for, isn't it like 3 billion dollars or something? It's one thing to settle a case for a few hundred thousand but three billion is almost real money.

        What IBM will get from this lawsuit is juicy discovery about Sun and MS. That's worth the price of the lawsuit alone. Who know how many lawsuits IBM will be able to file against Sun and MS after this case is over.
  • by mashtb4 (902800)
    I became a mac user around OS 8.5, and i remember iTunes coming out back in 2001. Why did it take Contois so long to file against Apple? Couldn't this have been brought up well before the current date? Or is there another reason behind this?
    • by Aadain2001 (684036) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:10PM (#16028253) Journal
      Yup, waiting until Apple had invested enough money, advertizing, and resources for them to just 'drop' iTunes or start over just to avoid a silly lawsuite or 12. It's become pretty common these days.
    • by EndlessNameless (673105) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:18PM (#16028278)
      Maybe he didn't realize Apple had violated his patent. Patents have to be non-obvious, after all, so perhaps the violation of said patent did not become obvious until a few years after iTunes became wildly popular.

      That must be it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I became a mac user around OS 8.5, and i remember iTunes coming out back in 2001. Why did it take Contois so long to file against Apple? Couldn't this have been brought up well before the current date? Or is there another reason behind this?

      Simple sleazy math. If iTunes flopped they would have gotten zip. They waited until it looked like iTunes had reached a kind of peak so they could claim maximum damages. If they had sued them back in 2001 they might have gotten pocket change or worse yet forced Apple

    • by JasonBee (622390)
      Not sure why...did'ja also know iTunes was someone else's product?

      Why didn't they Sue Casady & Greene - makers of Soundjam MP?

      http://ask.softonic.com/ie/9170/SoundJam_MP_Free [softonic.com]
      http://guides.macrumors.com/Image:ITunes1_vs_Sound JamMP.jpg [macrumors.com]

      I purchased the full version right about when Apple bought it, bastardized the interface and gave it away free. Oh the horrors. It very quickly became a slick tool and I was happy with the results.

      Nonethless...didn't WinAmp, and pretty much every MP3 and media player end up
  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:01PM (#16028221)
    "Those areas included ... sorting music tracks by their genre, artist and album attributes."

    Hi. I've invented third normal form. Pay me.

    Always remember, I'm the only one allowed to index and sort database records by individual field contents, without a royalty.

    -- Terry
  • jeebus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:06PM (#16028236)
    people claim "prior art" each and every time some other company than Apple goes to court - and here is an actaul case of prior art, and suddenly there is a whole bunch of folks running forward to defend apple?

    Seriously - Prior art - its documented.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)
      True ... but the issue is less that it is "prior art" (I mean, I've been a programmer for over twenty five years and I'm absolutely sure that I could find something equally stupid somewhere in that morass of code to sue Apple over) but that it is bloody damned obvious. That's really the problem with software patents, in that they aren't protecting novel ideas but existing "prior art" (often developed by someone other than the patent-holder) and the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of the Patent Offi
    • Of the visible comments at my thresholds, I see absolutely no one defending Apple. The closest I see are people explaining why this might have been a smart move for Apple.

      Or do you mean this small company is showing prior art for these retarded patents? Problem there is, it was in common use in WinAMP and XMMS before then -- but no one was evil enough to patent the idea. Thus, Apple even bothering to acknowledge these guys is somewhat evil -- but the guys who have these "patents" are even more evil.
      • Mod Parent DOWN (Score:2, Informative)

        by agent_no.82 (935754)
        Information incorrect. See above posts with dates. Winamp 1997. XMMS 1997. Claim is 1995.
    • Prior art (Score:2, Interesting)

      by RKBA (622932) *
      Prior art: According to Knuth (Vol3, "Sorting and Searching"): "One of the first large-scale software systems to demonstrate the versatility of sorting was the Larc Scientific Compiler developed by Computer Sciences Corporation in 1960."

      More prior art: In 1960 Quicksort was developed. Working for the British computer company Elliott Brothers, C. A. R. Hoare developed Quicksort, an algorithm that would go on to become the most used sorting method in the world.
      http://www.computerhistory.org/timeline/?year=196 [computerhistory.org]
  • Apple is accused of copying someone's "look and feel"? Hmmm. Where have I heard that argument before? Oh, the thick, thick irony.
  • by gsn (989808) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:07PM (#16028248)
    No the submitter is not jumping to conclusions - look at the bloody claims


    Those areas included iTunes' menu selection process to allow the user to select music to be played, the ability of the software to transfer music tracks to a portable music player, and search capabilities such as sorting music tracks by their genre, artist and album attributes.


    A menu selection process to allow the user to select music to be played - its a music player! File>Open is a damned menu! Please for a second picture a music player that doesn't allow the user to select the music to be played via a menu. mpg123 is all that comes to mind.

    The ability of the software to transfer music tracks to a portable music player - wait any OS can do this - its copying files for crissakes. Again trivially File>Save As ... heck your browser could then be a piece of software that can transfer tracks to a portable music player. Throw in the right plugin and it can open music files and save them to a portable music player.

    This sorting by genre>artist>title is something I've done for ages with tapes and then CDs. The Creative patent was stupid and this one is too - Indeed I'm stunned they don't sue each other.

    All of these patents are obvious and entirely frivolous, and really ought not to exist. So much as I dislike Apple and support underdogs I've got to side with Cupertino because this is ridiculous.
    • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:14PM (#16028400) Homepage Journal
      Please for a second picture a music player that doesn't allow the user to select the music to be played via a menu.

      Actually, that pretty much describes the iPod Shuffle!
    • by crucini (98210)
      No the submitter is not jumping to conclusions - look at the bloody claims...

      I agree. Until you read the claims, you know nothing about a patent. But the material you cite is not claims. It looks like something written by a journalist.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by niceone (992278)

      A menu selection process to allow the user to select music to be played - its a music player! File>Open is a damned menu! Please for a second picture a music player that doesn't allow the user to select the music to be played via a menu. mpg123 is all that comes to mind.

      The ability of the software to transfer music tracks to a portable music player - wait any OS can do this - its copying files for crissakes. Again trivially File>Save As ... heck your browser could then be a piece of software that c

  • absurd??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oohshiny (998054) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:17PM (#16028273)
    Given Apple's litigious history [wikipedia.org], I don't think there's any reason to consider these claims absurd. Apple went as far as trying to claim rights to pretty much all graphical user interfaces without even having invented them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DaveCBio (659840)
      Agreed. Somehow Mac fans and, well just about anyone anti-Microsoft, think that somehow Apple is not a large company with the same lawyers, shareholder obligations and occasional predatorial business practices that most large corporations have. They may try and project sandals, Hacky Sack, anti-conformist hipsterism, but in the end they have the same goals as any other corporation and that's to make as much money as possible and to build value into their shares.
    • compulsory Xerox, Apple and Progress [folklore.org] quote follows:

      Steve did see Smalltalk when he visited PARC. He saw the Smalltalk integrated programming environment, with the mouse selecting text, pop-up menus, windows, and so on. The Lisa group at Apple built a system based on their own ideas combined with what they could remember from the Smalltalk demo, and the Mac folks built yet another system. There is a significant difference between using the Mac and Smalltalk.

      maybe even more useful A visual history of the [folklore.org]

      • Smalltalk was just an application not the foundation of Xerox's GUI. The fundamentals of the user interface were developed on the Alto which was released (internally) in 1973. I think Jobs saw Smalltalk running on the Star which was introduced in 1981.

        The Alto, Star, Lisa and Mac all had their differences, but the difference between the Apple II interface and the Star interface was much, much greater than the difference between the Star and the Mac.

        That doesn't mean that Apple didn't make their own contribu
        • I think Jobs saw Smalltalk running on the Star which was introduced in 1981.

          Well, you think wrong: From the transcript [pbs.org] of "Triumph Of The Nerds Part III":

          "Steve Jobs had co-founded Apple Computer in 1976. The first popular personal computer, the Apple 2, was a hit - and made Steve Jobs one of the biggest names of a brand-new industry. At the height of Apple's early success in December 1979, Jobs, then all of 24, had a privileged invitation to visit Xerox Parc.

          Steve Jobs

          And they showed me really three

  • A resounding WTF. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hikaricloud (983170)
    Amazing. People will sue for all kinds of crap these days, eh?

    Call me stupid, but this sounds like a rerun. The same thing happened with automobiles...George Selden tried to sue Henry Ford because Selden held the patent to the first automobile, even though it was built after Ford's. Messed up American patent system. The supreme court ruled that Ford and anyone else with the crazy hair across their ass to do so could build a car without paying Selden royalties. Because, and I quote from wikipedia.org, "au
  • How can this be? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Newer Guy (520108) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:37PM (#16028325)
    AM and FM radio stations have been using these kind of "computer devices" for DECADES! They are known as program automation systems and they date back to the PDP-8 days in the 1970's! How can this patent even be considered? This kind of stuff was prior art DECADES ago! I think either Gates Radio (Harris) or International Good Music (IGM) had patents on the original automation systems, but they've long since expired. Can someone else re-patent something based upon an expired patent? It sure sounds like this happened here!
    • AM and FM radio stations have been using these kind of "computer devices" for DECADES! They are known as program automation systems and they date back to the PDP-8 days in the 1970's! How can this patent even be considered?

      Because the new element is "on a handheld device".

      • So? Big deal that technology allowed automation systems to get smaller. The first TV sets were the size of cars, yet Sony couldn't patent the Viewman (handheld TV set), because it was the result of the advance of technology. How is this any different?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Apple has settled with a small Oregon company that claimed patents on simple"

    Funny the article says Apple Computer has settled a lawsuit filed by a Vermont-based business owner.

    Wonder how many submitters actually read the article first, instead of just trying to copy/paste.
  • Vermont... Oregon... they're like the same state anyhow. Only 3,200 miles apart, after all.

    It's only the title of the article, after all.
    • by tfoss (203340)
      I wondered about that....I used to go to Contois Music in Burlington back in the day (that'd be the early 90's). Nice guys, but this whole things seems a bit iffy.

      -Ted
  • by bombastinator (812664) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:51PM (#16028343)
    Apple may be crazy like a fox here.

    Once upon a time Two shirt makers named Smith and Wesson built themselves a gun empire.

    They did it by finding a guy who had a patent on revolvers that had cylinders bored all the way through. The gun the patents were listed for was horrible, and the patent was questionable at best. There was ample examples of prior art for one thing. They realized however that if they honored the patent and bought a license it made the quality of the patent vastly stronger.

    The deal they made was that they would pay a fairly generous license fee for exclusive rights, but the patent holder would pay for all the patent challenges. The patent holder spent all the royalties on lawsuits and retired a pauper, but Smith and Wesson had a monopoly on revolvers for 20 years.

    By honoring this patent and arranging for exclusive rights they may be able to keep others from even building other music players. Assuming patent law hs not changed, this could actually shoot the Zoon right through the head.
  • Prior art (Score:3, Interesting)

    by azav (469988) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:08PM (#16028388) Homepage Journal
    Well, well.

    It appears that most anyone who created multimedia with Director and audio from Sound edit in the early 1990's has prior art for many of those "inventions"

    I know I have priors from late 1995 (even demoed by Phill Shiller at that time) but that may not be early enough.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by blincoln (592401)
      It appears that most anyone who created multimedia with Director and audio from Sound edit in the early 1990's has prior art for many of those "inventions"

      I was thinking the same thing. I don't have the old Director files anymore, at least that I can find, but I did stash some screenshots away. I was 16 or 17 at the time, so the design is amateur, but functional:

      InterlocK(tm) VF-2S(tm) Shockwave Streaming Audio [thelostworlds.net] (the copyright for the song being played [angelfire.com] says 1996, but I would have had the player up and runnin
    • Re:Prior art (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dthree (458263) <chaoslite@@@hotmail...com> on Saturday September 02, 2006 @12:39AM (#16028582) Homepage
      Soon after CDROM drives came out for mac, there were XCMD's that could you could use in director to play audio files from a CD, so it could have been easily done.

      However, many 3rd party CDROM drives (like one I bought in 1993) came with their own audio CD player software that:

      1. allow the user to select music to be played
      2. search capabilities such as sorting music tracks by their genre, artist and album attributes.
      3. the ability of the software to transfer music tracks to the local hard drive

      Well, 2 out of 3 - Close enough!
  • by 3seas (184403) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:54PM (#16028476) Journal
    giving in to these silly claims only gives support for more silly claims to be made.

    Quick someone patent "silly".

    It can be done, even though its an action not a thing.
  • by Assassin bug (835070) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @12:07AM (#16028500) Journal
    iSue and iLitigate
  • Soundjam (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Swift2001 (874553)
    I guess I don't follow the geek consensus about Soundjam. I found the interface, with all those windows, a huge pain the ass. Also, "skinnability" struck me as pretty much a total bore. When Apple brought out iTunes -- BEFORE the iPod -- I used it to load up the Rio 32 MB player I had, and it was pretty keen. But it was the interface that just killed me: everything clean, clear and obvious.

    When I got the first iPod, ordered the day of the unveiling, and used it with iTunes, I knew they had a hit.

    But then, I
  • The summary says it's a small Oregon company, but the article says it's a Vermpont-based company. Probably this company. http://www.contoismusic.com/ [contoismusic.com]
  • by ClosedSource (238333) * on Saturday September 02, 2006 @12:42AM (#16028590)
    Apple has plenty of questionable patents of its own. Here's a handful out of about 1000 that have been granted:

    7,100,113: Systems and methods for using media upon insertion into a data processing system
    7,099,869: Method and apparatus for managing file extensions in a digital processing system
    7,086,008: Multiple personas for mobile devices
    7,034,814: Methods and apparatuses using control indicators for data processing systems

  • why companies do this? The stand to make far more money off thier own absurd patents since they're bound to have more of them (they've got lawyers who work all day to come up with them).
  • I really don't know how I managed to turn Vermont into Oregon; sorry about that. At least I can laugh about it; I honestly didn't think Slashdot would even post it. Someone wondered if I had read the article instead of copying and pasting. Well, if I had copied and pasted, I probably wouldn't have made that 3,000 mile mistake. :) I must have gotten interrupted somehow while I was typing my blurb.

    Speaking of blurbs, Slashdot unfortunately cut part of what I said, which made a point along the lines of, "T
  • I'm a registered owner of SoundJam for OS9. I found out that my registration fee wouldn't entitle me to upgrades, because Apple bought the MP3 player. If you look (not very hard), iTunes is SoundJam enhanced a bit. Even if they don't share any of the same code today, iTunes 1.0 probably did.

    Even if Apple did see this "product", it's clear that Apple engineers didn't "rip off" this guy... it was someone else. Can you really blame a company for its acquisitions?

    Why isn't this chump going after Nullsoft / AOL
  • persons who were at the time employed by or later became employed by Apple were present at both trade shows and viewed Contois' software. The suit charged that Apple later 'copied' the invention and used the design ideas in the interface for iTunes."

    Yeah, Apple does have that reputation. At least, that what my mole at PARC tells me.

    • by geekoid (135745)
      As long as the mole also told you they paid for the rights(with stock) to use the interface, then everything is just fine.
  • This is one of those situations where, from the outside, it looks like Apple should have squashed these fuckers like a bug. That makes my "inner paranoid" think they gave up intentionally, to support and legitimize frivolous patent or look-and-feel attacks.

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