Apple is settling a patent dispute with Creative, the makers of rival digital player ZEN. According to reports, Apple will pay $100 million USD to Creative in an amicable solution to the patent infringement suit. Creative Technology owns U.S. patent 6,928,433 which protects an “Automatic hierarchical categorization of music by metadata”. The patent covers:

“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.”

This patent can clearly be used by Creative against other portable players. It seems like Apple did the right thing in settling this potentially costly litigation.


4 Comments

David M · August 24, 2006 at 3:32 am

How can this be sensible?The patent is so broad and hardly state-of-the-art or an inventive step of any kind. More likely its Apple playing politics knowing full well that $100 Million will wipe out the possibility of many alternative manufacturers making iPod clones, and will cause Microsoft hassles as it will now have to choose to fight or settle for its Zune mp3 player..

David M · August 24, 2006 at 5:10 am

Good discussion of the logic of this move here on Slashdot…

Andres Guadamuz · August 24, 2006 at 6:41 am

Hello David,Although I agree that this is a horrendously vague and broad patent, and that it should not have been awarded, I'm afraid that I have to agree with Apple's decision. Apple's problem is that American patent law is overwhelmingly in favour of the patent holder, so there is a very good chance that they could lose the case, and therefore ehaving to pay much more in the end. Not only that, they could suffer crippling injunctions that could affect their market dominance.

Anonymous · September 18, 2007 at 2:51 pm

You guys don't understand patent law.In every valuable patent the claims can and should be broad.Apple settled because Creative invented first. Apple engineers would probably have come up with the same idea, but they did it after Creative.If Apple had gotten the broad patent claim first, you can be sure they would be enforcing it against othters.

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