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Apple settles iTunes software interface lawsuit

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Apple Computer has settled a lawsuit filed by a Vermont-based business owner who claimed the iPod maker stole his software interface design and used it to create iTunes.

The terms of the deal, which were reached following a 15-hour negotiating session, were not disclosed, according to the Burlington Free Press.

As first reported by AppleInsider, Contois Music Technology in June of 2005 asked a Federal Court to stop Apple from distributing its iTunes jukebox software and requested that it be awarded damages over an alleged patent violation.

Specifically, the suit alleged that Apple's iTunes software interface design infringed on Contois' six-year old design patent (US Patent No. 5,864,868) entitled "Computer Control System and User Interface for Media Playing Devices."

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.

Specifically, Contois documented 19 interface aspects of the iTunes software that it claimed were in direct violation of Contois' patent. 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.

"We're glad to get back to teaching music and selling musical instruments," Dan Contois, a brother of David Contois, told the Burlington Free Press. "The terms are confidential. We can't discuss them."
post #2 of 17
I always think things like these are silly, they would never have made a piece of software like itunes and just want some money. if someone thinks something up but never does anything about it, and its a good idea, i think its good for someone else to make their vision a reality.

also, this is such an obvious design that many people could have thought of aspects of it without having the knowhow or funds to create it.
post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Specifically, Contois documented 19 interface aspects of the iTunes software that it claimed were in direct violation of Contois' patent. 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.[c

[ View this article at AppleInsider.com ][/c]


Yes, drag and drop from software to music device. Patented. WTF It's like a spreadsheet. Sort by column. But sort by column in a music software and it's Patented. WTF
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider

search capabilities such as sorting music tracks by their genre, artist and album attributes.


That is an invention worth patenting. Maybe I should patent a feature of my app that allows it to minimize and maximize the window it is using.
post #5 of 17
The thing that strikes me the most amusing is that the suit wasn't filed until 4 years after the iPod and iTunes started working together. And it's not like iTunes has flown under the radar; it's about as visible a product as there is. If this was causing such problems, why not file suit years ago?
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You can lead a horse to water, but if you can make him float on his back, then you've got something.
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post #6 of 17
A friend of mine has just started http://www.bleedingobvious.org/ for registering obvious ideas and fighting off stupid patents.

The idea is that when a stupid patent is granted, it can be challenged on the basis of prior art.
post #7 of 17
All software patents should be illegal. There is always going to be crossover of one idea or another in order to make something user friendly. There are only so many ways you can do something.
post #8 of 17
it seems like anyone can patent shit these days. this system is absolutely flawed.
post #9 of 17
Contois Controls?

Took me about 3 good looks to realize the guy's last name wasn't Controls.
post #10 of 17
Why is Apple settling these massive (and perhaps semi-massive) lawsuits now? Are they planning to write off these and include them with the restated earnings stemming from their accounting error?

I'm not understanding their strategy at this time... Better get The Wu on the phone.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich

Why is Apple settling these massive (and perhaps semi-massive) lawsuits now? Are they planning to write off these and include them with the restated earnings stemming from their accounting error?

I'm not understanding their strategy at this time... Better get The Wu on the phone.

Step to the Wu, Wu-Tang Analysts.
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post #12 of 17
I wonder what the settlement terms were? It couldn't have been substantial for such ridiculous claims, and in only 15 hours.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by King Chung Huang

I wonder what the settlement terms were? It couldn't have been substantial for such ridiculous claims, and in only 15 hours.

...and unlike the Creative settlement, which they seemed to want to have trumpeted from the heavens on down, this one was confidential. Maybe Apple just wanted to scare him.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elixir

it seems like anyone can patent shit these days. this system is absolutely flawed.

Yes. In Diamond v. Chakrabarty Judge Burger points out that:
"The Committee Reports accompanying the 1952 Act inform us that Congress intended statutory subject matter 'include anything under the sun that is made by man.' S. Rep. No. 1979, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 5 (1952); H. R. Rep. No. 1923, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 6 (1952).

Patentable subject matter=anything under the sun that is made by man.

Of course, there are novelty, utility, an nonobviousness limitations to this, but patentability is generally broad. http://www.totallyabsurd.com/absurd.htm

BTW, the Patent Reform Act of 2006 will significantly change the patent law system if adopted.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich

Why is Apple settling these massive (and perhaps semi-massive) lawsuits now? Are they planning to write off these and include them with the restated earnings stemming from their accounting error?

I'm not understanding their strategy at this time... Better get The Wu on the phone.

LOL this wu thing has gotten out of hand.

what the wu
post #16 of 17
If Apple did pay, its admission of guilt. Apple is just encouraging flood of lawsuits. Wheres the old Apple of the 70's. They became greed businessmen
post #17 of 17
Before you start saying this patent is without merit, take a look at the evidence.



I'm as pro-apple as the next guy here, but I think they have a legitimate claim here.
It is very possible that the developers of SoundJam(which later became iTunes) saw Contois software and implemented a similar design.
I'm opposed to software patents, but until they are abolished Apple needs to deal with them.

I think it is very good that Apple is settling these lawsuits prior to the introduction of their next-gen iPod. It is not good if a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the iPod franchise.
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