Creative playing the pattent game too...

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Now creative is at it:



Creative Claims Apple IPod Uses Its Newly Patented Technology



Creative Technology says it's been awarded a U.S. patent for user-interface technology in its portable media players and its competitors', including the iPod.



By Antone Gonsalves, TechWeb News

Aug. 30, 2005

URL: http://www.informationweek.com/story...leID=170102026



Creative Technology Ltd. on Tuesday said it has been awarded a U.S. patent for user-interface technology found in its portable media players and those of competing companies, including the market leading iPod from Apple Computer Inc.



The patent covers technology that enables a person to navigate among the thousands of songs that could potentially be stored in today's digital music players.



Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., was not immediately available for comment, but Creative made it clear that it believed its patented technology was in the Apple iPod and iPod Mini, as well as in other competing players. The company, however, did not say whether it would seek royalties.



The Creative patent covers technology invented in the company's research center in Scotts Valley, Calif. The invention was first used in Creative's Nomad Jukebox MP3 player, which was first shipped to U.S. retailers in September 2000, the Singapore company said. Creative applied for the so-called "Zen Patent" on Jan. 5, 2001 and it was awarded on Aug. 9. The name applies to Creative's new line of players, including the Zen Vision that was launched this month.



Apple filed a provisional patent application for a multimedia player user interface July 30, 2002, more than a year and a half after Creative filed for its patent. Apple filed its final application Oct. 28, 2002, which was rejected this month by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent, however, was tossed based on Microsoft Corp. patent applications that covered much of the same technology.



During a teleconference with reporters, Craig McHugh, president of Creative, would not say whether the company planned to ask Apple to license the technology, or demand that it not use it at all.



"We're currently evaluating all alternatives, and we're looking at all the alternatives available to us," McHugh said.



McHugh, however, did say Creative was "very open to working with all companies," and cited technology agreements it had with Yahoo Inc., Napster LLC, Microsoft and others.



Creative has struggled unsuccessfully to make a dent in Apple's domination of the portable media player market. The latter company, which has shipped nearly 22 million iPods, accounts for about 75 percent of digital music players sold in the United States, according to the NPD Group.



In trying to shake Apple from its top perch, Creative lowered prices on its players, which caused its profit margin to shrink dramatically, Harry Wang, analyst for Park Associates, said. More recently, the company introduced a multimedia player that looks to grab market share by being able to store and play not just audio, but also video and photos. The Zen Vision sells for $399, which is equal to the Apple's high-end iPod.



The Zen Vision, however, is not expected to hurt iPod sales, unless it was to fall below $300, Wang said.



"I don't think the price point is there," Wang said.



If Creative decided to use its new patent to challenge Apple, then it would be seen as trying to use the courts to help achieve what it couldn't do in the market place, compete on technology and design, analysts said.



"What creative couldn't get from competing in the market place, it would appear to be seeking to get elsewhere," David Daoud, analyst for International Data Corp., said.



Wang agreed, saying, "It would be just another type of strategy in trying to shake Apple's position."



McHugh, however, said such criticism would be unjustified, given that Creative's patent proves the company produces innovative technology, and that it shipped its first music player, the Nomad Jukebox, to U.S. retailers more than a year before the Apple announced the iPod.



In addition, the executive said, the company has made some headway against Apple, and even dominates the market for portable media players in some regions of the world.



"The patent application was to protect our invention," McHugh said. "Today, we're just announcing our patent. We're not announcing strategy."



Creative's patent technology enables a person using a media player to find a file by navigating through a hierarchy of terms. For example, a person could start with a list of artists, choose one to get albums, choose an album to get a list of songs, and then choose the specific track. The same sequence could also begin with a particular genre of music.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by melgross (in a different thread, but the reply makes more sense in this thread)

    Of course, Creative just announced thei patent.



    So if it's valid, they might be rubbing their hands together.




    Oh, pulease. Even if a bunch of high-priced lawyers convince Apple that it's easier to pay out than to fight, or, more unlikely, win something based on this idiocy in court, all it means is that the world has gone further down the road toward insanity, not that this stupid f*cking patent on "automatic hierarchical categorization of music by metadata" is in any reasonable or moral sense "valid".



    I am a software engineer. By the standards which apparently exist for granting patents, I've probably created a dozen or so patentable innovations. I don't give a crap. I don't want the hassles, and unless I do something that meets my own high standards of what's worthy of patent, I'd feel like a schmuck going after someone else for supposedly "infringing" on my patents.



    This corrosive environment of idiotic patents might, however force patent application upon me -- for defensive reasons. No matter if I really want a patent or not, if I don't apply for a patent, someone else might, and then I could well get screwed out of being able to freely use the fruits of my own independent labor.



    That is not the world I want to live and work in.



    Patent and copyright law is supposed to be about promoting innovation and productivity. These ridiculous patents aren't accomplishing that. All these patents are encouraging is lots of wasted effort in legal wrangling and ass covering... oh, and of course, contributing to that most noble of charities... making lawyers rich.
  • Reply 2 of 16
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,978member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by shetline

    Oh, pulease. Even if a bunch of high-priced lawyers convince Apple that it's easier to pay out than to fight, or, more unlikely, win something based on this idiocy in court, all it means is that the world has gone further down the road toward insanity, not that this stupid f*cking patent on "automatic hierarchical categorization of music by metadata" is in any reasonable or moral sense "valid".



    I am a software engineer. By the standards which apparently exist for granting patents, I've probably created a dozen or so patentable innovations. I don't give a crap. I don't want the hassles, and unless I do something that meets my own high standards of what's worthy of patent, I'd feel like a schmuck going after someone else for supposedly "infringing" on my patents.



    This corrosive environment of idiotic patents might, however force patent application upon me -- for defensive reasons. No matter if I really want a patent or not, if I don't apply for a patent, someone else might, and then I could well get screwed out of being able to freely use the fruits of my own independent labor.



    That is not the world I want to live and work in.



    Patent and copyright law is supposed to be about promoting innovation and productivity. These ridiculous patents aren't accomplishing that. All these patents are encouraging is lots of wasted effort in legal wrangling and ass covering... oh, and of course, contributing to that most noble of charities... making lawyers rich.




    I can agree to a certain extent. My company had a number of patents.



    But while the IDEA of the patent is to advance technology for society as a whole, which is what you're saying (and I agree with that in theory), the person or company going for the patent has never had that as a goal.



    I agree with that idea as well. The founding fathers weren't stupid, they knew that plain old greed is what advances matters.
  • Reply 3 of 16
    Quote:

    Originally posted by shetline

    Patent and copyright law is supposed to be about promoting innovation and productivity...



    Perhaps, but only indirectly. Patent and copyright law is about protecting the incorporeal from theft, that's it's key purpose, that's what it's supposed to be about. The fact that people tend to think of different ways of solving the same problem because another method is blocked by royalties is more an effect of Patent and copyright than it is the purpose of patent and copyright. It's kinda like suggesting that the purpose of making theft illegal is to encourage people to buy things. The purpose of making theft illegal is to discourage people from stealing things, which in turn makes bargaining and bartering more attractive.
  • Reply 4 of 16
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Not quite in agreement with that.



    If that were true, then patents wouldn't necessitate disclosure, but they do. It's a two-way street - you disclose how you did it, pushing the state of the art forward for everyone, but in return you get a limited time monopoly on the idea.



    If it were *strictly* about protecting IP, then it wouldn't require disclosure, and you'd essentially have trade secrets.



    The problem is that the state of the art in software moves *so fricking fast* that the 'limited time' becomes essentially 'forever'. By the time your patent has expired, the industry has moved far, far past where your contribution can be effectively added to the collective pool.



    It also promotes innovation by protecting investment. What's the point in working hard and spending money to develop an idea, if someone else could swoop in and steal it from you? No one would bother to develop new ideas without *insane* secrecy - by which everyone ends up losing.



    Patents create a middle ground, where the public learns how you did what you did, but you get a guaranteed window to recoup your investment.



    In theory.
  • Reply 5 of 16
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,978member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kickaha

    Not quite in agreement with that.



    If that were true, then patents wouldn't necessitate disclosure, but they do. It's a two-way street - you disclose how you did it, pushing the state of the art forward for everyone, but in return you get a limited time monopoly on the idea.



    If it were *strictly* about protecting IP, then it wouldn't require disclosure, and you'd essentially have trade secrets.



    The problem is that the state of the art in software moves *so fricking fast* that the 'limited time' becomes essentially 'forever'. By the time your patent has expired, the industry has moved far, far past where your contribution can be effectively added to the collective pool.



    It also promotes innovation by protecting investment. What's the point in working hard and spending money to develop an idea, if someone else could swoop in and steal it from you? No one would bother to develop new ideas without *insane* secrecy - by which everyone ends up losing.



    Patents create a middle ground, where the public learns how you did what you did, but you get a guaranteed window to recoup your investment.



    In theory.




    That's pretty much what I was saying.



    I'm not against software patents. I think that they should be in a seperate catagory though. Perhaps they should hold for five years instead of about twenty. That would give enough advantage to those who have invented them but not so much so that time makes it impossible to compete.



    The revealing of the functionality of a patent is to allow the patent examiners a way to decide if the patent can work and is valid compared to previous patents.



    It also is to enable inventers to see if what they want to do has already been done by the methods they were about to employ.



    A patent isn't always about the finished product i.e. a black box. But rather what is in that box.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by jdbartlett

    Perhaps, but only indirectly. Patent and copyright law is about protecting the incorporeal from theft, that's it's key purpose, that's what it's supposed to be about.



    The historical basis for copyright and patent law in the US Constitution, according to Article I, Section 8, Clause 8:

    Quote:

    [The Congress shall have Power...] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;



    The emphasis here is promoting progress. The granting of exclusive rights is merely a means to an end, not an end unto itself.
  • Reply 7 of 16
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,978member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by shetline

    The historical basis for copyright and patent law in the US Constitution, according to Article I, Section 8, Clause 8:



    The emphasis here is promoting progress. The granting of exclusive rights is merely a means to an end, not an end unto itself.




    Yes, that's true. But again, with the understanding that in order to do that money has to be made.
  • Reply 8 of 16
    I bet Creative must be kicking itself for not patenting their ergonomic design ...



  • Reply 9 of 16
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,978member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by the cool gut

    I bet Creative must be kicking itself for not patenting their ergonomic design ...







    I remember those. But don't forget they had to fit a 2.5" drive into that, with a big enough battery to give decent lifetime.



    I bought the Creative Nomad II that year at the MacWorld. I haven't used it for years (I'm not a walk around stick stereo earplugs in kind of person I found out). But it was pretty good for its day. Kind of attractive too.
  • Reply 10 of 16
    xoolxool Posts: 2,460member
    Add a cell phone lanyard, and the Nomad becomes a great self defense weapon. In fact I might have to start carrying one so that if someone tries to steal my iPod while I'm riding the subway I can belt them one royally.



  • Reply 11 of 16
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,978member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Xool

    Add a cell phone lanyard, and the Nomad becomes a great self defense weapon. In fact I might have to start carrying one so that if someone tries to steal my iPod while I'm riding the subway I can belt them one royally.







    The Nomad Uckbox(sic) was a battleship for the reasons stated. The Nomad II was a small Smartmedia unit.
  • Reply 12 of 16
    icfireballicfireball Posts: 2,594member
    from the article, it says:



    "Creative executives said the company first shipped music players with the navigation system in September 2000, and filed the patent application in January 2001."



    Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought you couldnt pattent something that you have already started selling. Put two and two together and look what you get, A PROBLEM. Right?
  • Reply 13 of 16
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Wrong.



    After public disclosure, you have one year to file.
  • Reply 14 of 16
    Some questions to the legal experts out there:



    I know nothing about patent laws so don't rip my head off.



    Question 1: I'm not sure exactly what part of Creatives interface is patented but the iPod interface was based on iTunes which was available from January 9, 2001. iTunes itself is based on SoundJam which has been around forever. Does the Creative patent still apply?



    Question 2: I heard somewhere that you lose your patent if you don't protect it. Is this true? It's been years since the iPod came out and Creative is only suing now. How long can one leave it's patent unprotected and still be active?



    Question 3: What's the difference between Microsoft and Creatives patent?
  • Reply 15 of 16
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,978member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BeigeUser

    Some questions to the legal experts out there:



    I know nothing about patent laws so don't rip my head off.



    Question 1: I'm not sure exactly what part of Creatives interface is patented but the iPod interface was based on iTunes which was available from January 9, 2001. iTunes itself is based on SoundJam which has been around forever. Does the Creative patent still apply?



    Question 2: I heard somewhere that you lose your patent if you don't protect it. Is this true? It's been years since the iPod came out and Creative is only suing now. How long can one leave it's patent unprotected and still be active?



    Question 3: What's the difference between Microsoft and Creatives patent?




    Some of this can be answered and some can't. first off, I haven't read the patent, but there are things about patents that have to be understood.



    You can't patent, trademark, or copyright an idea. This one of the most important concepts. It is also one of the most misunderstood. You can only patent a thing or a process.



    It's pretty well known that you can't patent a formula. Einstein couldn't patent E=MC^ if he had wanted to because it's merely a description of a law of nature.



    A toaster is a thing, and if it differs in some unique way from other toasters, can be patented. But it's not that simple either.



    An example I have always liked is the patent a guy once got for "wheelbarrow with swiveling handles". This was an obvious mistake on the part of the examiner. He might have deserved the patent on the swiveling handles, but not on the whole. It was voided.



    To skip to the chase. Lines of code are not formulas. They are the description of a process. They may have formulas embedded within, but those are part of the described process and aren't being patented by themselves.



    If you don't protect your patent by never using it, i.e. patenting a device but never making(selling, marketing) it, you still own the patent. That's why companies exist purely for the purpose of buying patents and letting them lie until others build business's around them. When the business is at a peak, they pounce and sue. The idea being that if they sued in the beginning, it wouldn't be worth much, but by waiting, it could be worth billions. There have been a number of celebrated cases the last few years. Patents, in this country, are awarded on the basis of first to invent. Not first to file. But first to invent can be complex. If I draw something on the proverbial napkin, but do nothing, I may not be awarded the patent. Often first to invent means first to build. That does not mean first to market, or first to sell.



    Trademarks and copyrights are treated somewhat differently. You can only trademark and copyright Expressions of ideas. What I'm writing here is automatically copyrighted. But only my words, not my ideas. Someone can paraphrase them, and add to them, and subtract from them. If it's too close it's plagiarism, which is unethical, but not illegal. You can copyright something by the simple act of creating it. Defending it in court is something else. Then you have to prove priority. Registering is the safest way.



    Trademarks are even more different. You can trademark a name, logo, or symbol. You should file for these. The issue is complex in that States may have their own laws regarding trademarks. You must defend trademarks becasuse if you don't, they become diluted. If that happens it may become impossible to prove that it hasn't entered the common usage. Two examples are "elevator", and "Scotch Tape". This is why Disney is so "defensive".



    As to Creative's patent. I don't know. Without reading it, I can't say what they have patented. The description given to the press is insufficient to judge it by. Creative also received the patent just last month. It can take years to receive a patent. Though you may sell your "thing" while the patent is pending, which you often see just that on an item "Patent Pending". That's a warning to everyone that you have supposed rights. However you might not receive the patent after all. Then it's open season.



    At some point someone from MS's patent department said something about their patent not covering either Apple's submission or Creatives. I don't remember at the moment which.
  • Reply 16 of 16
    Also, this hierarchal system of organizing files is nothing new. This was in iTunes browse feature a long time again, and also in Mac OS X, Mac OS 9 and before for organizing files in folders, etc. It?s the same idea as the whole iPod setup and there is nothing new or original about it.
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