Music Patent Saga Takes Creative Twist

    August 30, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Apple launched the iPod, but it may be Creative and not Microsoft that patented a music management interface first.

Apple could probably beat Microsoft in a dispute over a patent on software used to navigate songs on the popular iPod media player. The iPod had been on the market for several months before Microsoft rushed a filing to the patent office. Apple filed a few months after Microsoft, but its request was recently rejected by the USPTO; the Microsoft patent was part of the reason for the rejection.

While that seems to be a surmountable obstacle, another has arisen. Creative Technology applied for a patent on the way menus are navigated on a music player after launching its Zen player. Zen debuted in September 2000, and Creative filed in January 2001, according to several sources.

The patent office granted Creative that patent three weeks ago. Now, a spokesperson for Creative says the company plans to be “very vigorous in the defense” of its intellectual property. With Creative and everyone else in the media player market well behind Apple and its 30 million iPods sold, the only way Creative may have to make money in the field would be by getting Apple to “pay” a licensing fee for the patented technology.

Legal experts cited in an AP report on the issue don’t see a clear-cut victor in either Microsoft or Creative, should one or both press Apple on the issue in court. Apple has a few options to get around the patent rejection it suffered at Microsoft’s hands, and still has time to explore them.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.