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Apple Sued Over iTunes UI

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the you-gotta-be-kidding dept.

Patents 502

An anonymous reader writes "It apppears that Contois Music Technology is suing Apple Computer over the UI to its iTunes music software. The suit claims patent infringement over a patent owned by Contois."

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IANAL but ... (1, Insightful)

dgrgich (179442) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872701)

...this looks like a solid case. If the iPod was introduced in 2001, this is after the patent date. Seems like a settlement is in the future to me.

How is that solid? Music not in database (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872729)

From reading the description is counds like the media itself was to be sotred in a database. In iTunes the media is stored in directories, though there is a database of music Metadata. Furthermore the bit about playing music in certain categories is very unlike playlists.

On the whole it seems like a really lame patent and hopefully will be stripped from them.

Re:How is that solid? Music not in database (2, Insightful)

koi88 (640490) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872764)


Furthermore the bit about playing music in certain categories is very unlike playlists.

But a lot like the iTunes Music Store.

Re:How is that solid? Music not in database (2, Informative)

joeljkp (254783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872927)

I just read the first claim in the patent, and I see nothing about a database. Here it is:
1. A computer user interface menu selection process for allowing the user to select music to be played on a music device controlled by a computer, comprising the steps of:

a) simultaneously displaying on a display device, at least two individual data fields selected from music categories, composers, artists, and songs;

b) selecting at least one item from at least one of the data fields;

c) in response to step b), redisplaying all data fields not having an item selected therefrom with data related only to the at least one item selected in step b), and simultaneously maintaining all items originally displayed in the data fields with at lest one item selected therefrom;

d) selecting an item in the songs data field in response to step c), and

e) playing the selected song item from step d) on the computer responsive music device.
It sounds like what is being patented is the ability to play music on a device (iPod) from a computer. Unless they define the computer itself as a music device, I haven't checked that...

Re:IANAL but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872741)

Did you 'look' at it at all? This is against iTunes, not the iPod.

Re:IANAL but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872806)

Did you think about what you said? iTunes was created FOR the ipod.

Re:IANAL but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872889)

And the GIF format was crated FOR computers, so you're in violation right now, fucko!

Re:IANAL but ... (1)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872787)

He claims they ripped off the interface he demoed at a trade show in 1995, which he then patented several years later. I thought there was supposed to be a one year time limit on that!

Re:IANAL but ... (1)

Rauser (631244) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872833)

The patent is supposed to be filed within 1 year, and the filing date on this one was 13 February 1996. Contois did his paperwork correctly.

Re:IANAL but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872791)

what about soundjam, isn't iTunes based on Soundjam (mp3 playing software bought by apple)

??

Re:IANAL but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872914)

IANAL

Just as well I guess, cause you'd probably make a crappy one.

Re:IANAL but ... (5, Insightful)

Wavicle (181176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872950)

While a settlement may be in the future, this should not be a solid case. The patent is blindingly obvious. Come on, they patented any database access program for a music collection that can then cause a player device to play it.

If you have a 100 disc CD changer and write a computer program to allow you to choose and begin playing selections from that changer, you violate this patent.

Here's the first claim from the patent:

1. A computer user interface menu selection process for allowing the user to select music to be played on a music device controlled by a computer, comprising the steps of:

a) simultaneously displaying on a display device, at least two individual data fields selected from music categories, composers, artists, and songs;

b) selecting at least one item from at least one of the data fields;

c) in response to step b), redisplaying all data fields not having an item selected therefrom with data related only to the at least one item selected in step b), and simultaneously maintaining all items originally displayed in the data fields with at lest one item selected therefrom;

d) selecting an item in the songs data field in response to step c), and

e) playing the selected song item from step d) on the computer responsive music device.


Now come on. If you are going to use a computer for connecting to a music device, how obvious is a user interface that categorizes the data? 90% of what a computer does when it isn't playing games is categorizing data!

LOL! (3, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872703)

Specifically, Contois documented 19 interface aspects of the iTunes software that it claims are in direct violation of Contois' patent. These areas include 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.

"By reason of Apple's infringing activities, Contois has suffered, and will continue to suffer, substantial damages in an amount yet to be determined," the suit reads. "On information and belief, Apple's infringement has been and continues to be willful."

----

Yeah. And it's only been out for, what 4 and a half years now (Jan 2001)?

Re:LOL! (4, Insightful)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872986)

"These areas include 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."


Woah! Those are really neat inventions. Must have required a lot of intellect to bring that intellectual property to paper.

Go patents go!

fp (-1, Troll)

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none (0, Troll)

bionicyeti (715949) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872708)

All Apple does is rip people off.

Re:none (1)

bionicyeti (715949) | more than 9 years ago | (#12873005)

I guess it wasn't obvious I was kidding.

Leave it to Apple (-1, Troll)

burbankmarc (838977) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872709)

Leave it to Apple to just copy everyone else...namely microsoft....

Re:Leave it to Apple (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872811)

Damn trolls, with their usually ignorant, unnecessary comments and make-out parties.

Re:Leave it to Apple (0, Offtopic)

Max_Wells_SH (863873) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872842)

Leave it to Apple to just copy everyone else...namely microsoft....

Spock: "A lie?"
Valeris: "A choice."

Don't mean to feed the troll but it was there...

I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872710)

If I were Apple, I'd fight this one in court. I'm not a patent lawyer, but this seems to be a rediculous patent. The primary claims seem to be:

1. That a computer program can have buttons to start and stop music.
2. That a computer program can display two or more data fields about that music during play.

There is another claim about controlling a player piano (!), but that seems irrelevant to this case.

The problems I see with this patent are:

1. The claims argued are blatently obvious. It's one step above a patent for displaying and manipulating data on a screen. The only difference is that this adds music! (rolls eyes)
2. Plenty of prior art exists. For example, MIDI and CD players throughout the 90's were capable of "controlling the playback of music" and "displaying two or more data fields about the song". Not to mention MP3 player that existed prior to January 1999.
3. The primary focus of the body of the patent is on player piano control. AFAIK, iTunes does not run player pianos.
4. The patent points to MIDI or a MIDI-like device as the stream being controlled. Digital audio is not a method of controlling a digital instrument, but rather a synthesis of a complete sound environment.

Perhaps the best reform would be to allow for reprocussions against the patent holder should his patent be found to be issued in error or inapplicablE? For example, if the patent holder was forced to pay court costs, he may think twice before initiating a baseless suit.

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (4, Informative)

mukund (163654) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872796)

The iTunes interface seems to be almost a ditto copy of their interface [appleinsider.com] , and they have alleged that persons who were at the time employed by or later became employed by Apple were present at both trade shows and viewed Contois' software.

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (0, Redundant)

BJH (11355) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872854)

Well, uh, duh.

That's the whole point. The patent is so obvious and broad that if you want to display a list of music, selectable by category/artist/title/whatever, along with some buttons to start and stop the music, then you're going to end up with SIMILAR INTERFACES.

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872971)

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (5, Insightful)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872801)

Not to mention MP3 player that existed prior to January 1999.

The patent was granted January 1999. It was actually filed Feb. 13, 1996, so you have to beat that date since that is the priority date and the date from which their 20 year term of protection begins. If you read the claims carefully, it is more than just a simple listing and selection of songs. In order to violate the patent, each and every element of an independent claim has to be present in what is alleged to be infringed upon. It is not as simple as you are making it out to be.

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872937)

MOD4Win [pjeantaud.free.fr] had "multiple data display", "database features", and "music control" in 1993 [hitsquad.com] . Not to mention that NeXTSTEP had the scrolling file chooser interface [wikipedia.org] used by iTunes, many years prior to 1996. If anything, Apple might be able to countersue for this company copying *their* interface!

Sorry, their arguments aren't holding water. And I still don't see any player pianos. :-/

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (2, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872944)

Windows 3.1 (or was it Creative Labs'?) had a midi player whose buttons could be compared to today's winamp. The format of the music being played is irrelevant.

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (4, Informative)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872825)

Yeah, my favorite line in the patents is:
The invention resides not in any one of these features per se, but rather in the particular combination of all of them herein disclosed and claimed and it is distinguished from the prior art in this particular combination of all of its structures for the functions specified.

So they admit they haven't invented anything, but they got a patent because of the amazingly innovative combination of those features like choosing a track combined with then playing the track. WOW!!!!!!!!

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872843)

I'm guessing the patent holder's primary argument will be that the situation is unique because it involves music "on a computer". Even better, they could say "music on the internet". Those seem to be the buzzwords behind many ridiculous patents covering obvious things. This patent seems designed to be an all-purpose digital music patent to be used against anyone creating an electronic UI for anything music related at all.

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872936)

Apple could save a fortune by firing its legal department and hiring you! This way, next time they get a "rediculous" claim against them, you can fix things.

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (2, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872991)

I'm not a patent lawyer, but this seems to be a rediculous patent.
I'm not a patent lawyer either, but I'd like to point out that "rediculous" is not a disqualifying characteristic for a patent.
Plenty of prior art exists. For example, MIDI and CD players throughout the 90's were capable of "controlling the playback of music" and "displaying two or more data fields about the song".
But not on a computer. Those MIDI and CD players throughout the 90s would have also been patentable (and I'm sure they're patented) but whenever you make an improvement to the use of a patented technology, you can usually get a... wait for it... brand new patent.

There are a quadrillion patents for existing technology, now slightly tweaked or modernized. I'm sure someone got a new patent for the steam engine just as soon as they connected it to a computer. It's now a computer controlled steam engine. Then when they connect that computer to the internet, it's an internet enable steam engine. Then when they created a web interface for it, they got more patents.

None of your listed "problems" have anything to do with patent law. That's the problem. Yes, yes, obviousness is *supposed* to come into play, but that has obviously been defined out of existence. Your prior art would not be covered by this patent.

Yes, it's idiotic. That's the problem.

Re:I can't believe the guts of this lawyer (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872999)

Ridiculous: Subject to ridicule.
Rediculous: Subject to being diculed twice, at least.

Bullshit patent. (2, Insightful)

mrseigen (518390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872715)

Anyone heard of a damn jukebox?

Hmm (5, Insightful)

FuzzzyLogik (592766) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872730)

This seems to cover not only iTunes but WinAMP, FooBar2000, and just about any other player that can organize music and play only selected artists, albums, or genre's.

This my friends is why we don't like software patents.

Re:Hmm (2, Insightful)

Winterblink (575267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872760)

We don't, people who win lawsuits based on precedents allowed by stupid laws love them.

Re:Hmm (1, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872799)

This seems to cover not only iTunes but WinAMP, FooBar2000, and just about any other player that can organize music and play only selected artists, albums, or genre's.

Except that WinAMP was released in 1997 and the patent was filed in 1999. Not to mention the original MP3 Player, WinPlay3 [sonicspot.com] , which had been released several years prior. There's nothing wrong with the current patent system, just that the existing rules need to be better enforced. The attempts to invalidate patents through a review process are the most promising to date.

Re:Hmm (1)

FuzzzyLogik (592766) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872886)

Ok being slightly unfamiliar with all this. Since WinAMP was released in 1997, that would invalidate the patent due to prior art correct?

With that said this company wouldn't have a leg to stand on...

It seems like the whole patent "industry" needs a bit of help. We hear about these stupid lawsuits on a daily basis anymore, it's pathetic and the number of dollars wasted should make it a pretty big priority to fix it ASAP.

Re:Hmm (1)

Scaba (183684) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872909)

The patent was filed in 1996. RTFPF.

Re:Hmm (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872963)

The patent was filed in 1996. RTFPF.

Okay, fine. WinPlay3 was released in 1995. [rjamorim.com] Not to mention MOD4Win which was released in 1993.

Re:Enforce the dam laws!!!! (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872856)

It's probably not the fact that software can be granted patents but the fact that patent enforcement is horrible. People have patented the combover. People have patented the wheel. God damn it. Enforce the laws!!!! Enforce the laws!!!! http://www.improbable.com/ig/ig-pastwinners.html [improbable.com]

Re:Hmm (1)

RoadkillBunny (662203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872922)

And definitly rhythmbox [gnome.org]

Re:Hmm (1)

kevmo (243736) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872941)

Actually, the patent covers the specific method in which iTunes organizes it's database, which is a bit different from other methods. Claims 1 and 2 patent the interface of having multiple data field boxes, such as genre, artist, and album. Each of these boxes at the top enumerates the total list of possible values for that data field, until you select an item for that field - then the other fields are updated to only include values consistent with the item chosen. If you've used iTunes, you should be familiar with this selection and search system - otherwise it would help to go poke around some screenshots.

Live by sword.... (2, Interesting)

JavaNPerl (70318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872947)

I believe the patent is BS and the lawsuit as well but, if I recall correctly Apple has sued several companies for copying the "look and feel" of Apple products, and those cases IMHO had about just as much merit.

Good ! (4, Insightful)

shades66 (571498) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872732)


Maybe if enough big companies get shafted through patent lawsuits they may consider working to get rid of software patents.

But then again....

Re:Good ! (4, Insightful)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872870)

Never happen.

Their thinking is that if we get MORE software patents, the costs will offset and we win.

It's fundamentally just an arms race, where the one with the biggest wallet wins and consumers always lose.

Re:Good ! (2, Insightful)

johnbeat (685167) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872977)

Big companies don't get shafted even when they get hit by lawsuits like this. Apple will either win in court, or they will pay the fee for using the patent, or they will find some way around the patent.

Apple, Microsoft, and other established businesses can afford the lawyers, the fee, and/or the extra programming time. Lawsuits like this are just one of the costs of doing business.

For established companies an out-of-control patent system is useful, despite the costs. It helps block competition by increasing the costs that potential competitors face when starting new companies.

Jerry

Tell me again... (1)

qw(name) (718245) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872733)

why software patents are good?

Re:Tell me again... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872830)

It is not Software patents that are good and evil it is how they are used.
I would support software patents for specialized complex algorithms like data compressions, encrtyption, and other back end information which other people can make a competing product, but not with the same algorithem. But for things like interface Patents are pritty silly because they are often created whenever the needs arises and no genious is needed to create it just happends to do what they need it to do.

Re:Tell me again... (1)

bodester17 (892112) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872910)

umm....i got nothing. they are worthless.

It's about time we throw the baby out with the (5, Insightful)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872736)

bath water.

If the child is a brat, you discipline the child. If the child tries to stab you to death for disciplining it, you put the child in a mental ward for safe observation and help. If when the child (or in this case patent industry) is mature and tries it again, society prescribes the death penalty (in the US). Why shouldn't the patent system be any different?

The big IT corporations don't need patents to maintain their control because they are in a unique position to crush upstarts that few industries have. They industry as a whole has proven that they can't use them responsibly and the very fact that a hobbyist can turn their hobby into a business means that patents are bad. I'm sorry, but the ends justify the means here. Patent holders have time and again proven that milking their work and not innovating is their real goal, at least in IT. It's time that the entire system be flushed out and simplified.

Re:It's about time we throw the baby out with the (2, Insightful)

derEikopf (624124) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872802)

Why shouldn't the patent system be any different?

Because the system is run by the governemnt, which is run by the corporations, which make profits off of the patents.

It's like not giving the baby a death penalty because having the baby makes you eligible for welfare.

The patent description (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872738)

A computer system and method for controlling a media playing device. The system provides a user interface for allowing a user access to media pieces stored in a media database. The interface is also for controlling a media playing device, like a player piano or movie playing video device, that is coupled to the computer to play the accessed or selected piece of media. In one embodiment there is a computer interface that allows a user to display only music that relates to a selected category, like jazz or classical music. Another embodiment allows the user to direct the media playing device to automatically play selected music pieces that are related to a selected music category. Another embodiment allows a user to direct the media playing device to automatically play selected music pieces that are related to the selected music composer or artist.

revolutionary (-1, Flamebait)

plastic_grass (529934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872749)

The idea of displaying the music catagory, composer, artist and song on the monitor is such a revolutionary idea, I don't believe Apple can use the defence "It just came to us."

Re:revolutionary (2, Informative)

bladx (816461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872790)

It's not that revolutionary... genre, artist, and song title has been shown on monitors before in karaoke bars...

Re:revolutionary (0, Offtopic)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872845)

Your sarcasm detector is broken.

Re:revolutionary (1)

bladx (816461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872882)

*have been shown And I just mean, in the past, there have been things like this before, in concept.

Re:revolutionary (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872980)

Your sarcasm detector is still broken.

On another note... could somone find a reason to mod bladx up? I've looked at his posting history. It looks like he's gotten a couple mods with a bug up their butt to mod him down early in his posting history. Now he's stuck with a -1 karma for no good reason.

If you are one of those mods, please use this opportunity to mod me into oblivion instead. Thanks.

Re:revolutionary (1)

blackcoot (124938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872807)

so revolutionary, in fact, that winamp had been doing it for years before apple hit upon the idea. really, why sue apple when these guys could take on some far meatier offenders (aol, who owns nullsoft, the guys who made winamp, and m$). oh yeah... i'm thinking rationally again.

good (2, Insightful)

Abstract_Me (799786) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872750)

not that i have anything against apple but we need big name cases like this to show what these patents will do. You thought that people would miss their blackberry, try telling everyone out there right now that they can't use their itunes anymore...

when america became nigeria (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872753)

so much for 'the land of invention'. now its 'the land of scam artists'.

Uh no. (1)

say__10 (768448) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872755)

They waited 4 years to file suit, seems fishy. Did they ever ship a product using that interface? If not how are they hurting? How can they seek damages?

Sweet! (1, Funny)

||Deech|| (16749) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872768)

Does this mean I can draw pictures "proving" the similarities between my software "Player of Media" and sue a certain large company for damages? I mean, I have drawings!

Re:Sweet! (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872784)

No; you have to have prior work and/or previous selling or patenting/copyright/trademark (or be in the process of).

Re:Sweet! (1)

||Deech|| (16749) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872810)

Yes, Yes. I know.

It was a joke. Did you see that "exibit", complete with a funny drawing of Liberace? I just found that "proof" hilarious.

My Patents (1)

ferretworks (317057) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872779)

Man, am I glad I submitted my patent for "speakers you place over your ears"

Patent Text (4, Insightful)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872781)

" Computer control system and user interface for media playing devices

Abstract

A computer system and method for controlling a media playing device. The system provides a user interface for allowing a user access to media pieces stored in a media database. The interface is also for controlling a media playing device, like a player piano or movie playing video device, that is coupled to the computer to play the accessed or selected piece of media. In one embodiment there is a computer interface that allows a user to display only music that relates to a selected category, like jazz or classical music. Another embodiment allows the user to direct the media playing device to automatically play selected music pieces that are related to a selected music category. Another embodiment allows a user to direct the media playing device to automatically play selected music pieces that are related to the selected music composer or artist."

My only question is: Where are the lawsuits against Microsoft's WMP, Realplayer, the Microsoft XBox Media Player, MusicMatch, etc?

iTunes has been out for over 4 years, and just now there's a lawsuit? I understand it takes time to find a lawyer that will accept a case, but *4* years? Hmmm, right at the height of popularity too, kinda amazing how it worked out like that...

Re:Patent Text (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872864)

That's the abstact, not the patent, the claims themselves are the critical part of the system.

As far as the other comment goes, it says in TFA that the patent holder has been trying to negotiate the issue with Apple since some time last year. The case is going to court because Apple doesn't want to settle on the patent holder's terms.

side by side image of the patented player & it (2, Interesting)

chinadrum (848282) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872783)

The patent points are generally vague and do seem to apply to other players. However, looking at the image at the bottom of the article, the two interfaces are strikingly similar. Add to that the fact that apple employees had been to the demo of this player the case may stand up a bit more.

Re:side by side image of the patented player & (3, Informative)

znu (31198) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872990)

What's the major similarity? The three-column browser at the top of the window? That's basically just a Miller-column browser, like the Finder's 'Column View', but designed for music. Miller-column browsers have been around forever. NeXTStep had one in 1988. This is an obvious application.

Isn't this ironic.... (1)

Crimson Dragon (809806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872785)

"the ability of the software to transfer music tracks to a portable music player"

Funny, WMP and Musicmatch allow this functionality, among others. I wonder why they weren't sued....

Smells fishy to me. Targetting the big kahuna rather than the concept.... I don't like it one bit. Yet another lawsuit that reeks of collusion.

I spoke of tit-for-tat earlier in the day. Here is another fine example of tit [thinksecret.com] -for-tat [appleinsider.com] .

Sue me. (1)

ionicplasma (820891) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872794)

Another patent infringement.

Perhaps slash should concentrate on more useful news. Company X being sued over patent Y by company Z is getting old.

Move along, nothing interesting to see here.

1995 Prior Art? Project Jukebox (5, Interesting)

CrownFive (20763) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872804)

I wonder if this might be a case of prior art from 1995?
http://www.soton.ac.uk/~newrep/vol13/no4news.html [soton.ac.uk]

Scroll down to the article "Jukebox is a sound success"

Does anyone have any more details about this? Does it cover the same claims as the Contois patent?

Re:1995 Prior Art? Project Jukebox (3, Funny)

millahtime (710421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872970)

this lawsuit is in the US. Prior Art has become irrelevant.

Uhh.. Prior Art? (1)

Arbin (570266) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872808)

Seriously, have they ever heard of Winamp? It has playlists, ability to track songs, pick, shuffle, etc.

Re:Uhh.. Prior Art? (1)

jockm (233372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872866)

Their claim (and I am not defending it), included other things (including purchasing and transfering to other devices). You have to look at all of the aspects of the claim when looking for prior art.

Re:Uhh.. Prior Art? (1)

richdun (672214) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872898)

Yes, but Winamp lacks one feature that makes it immune from prosecution on this particular patent: billions of dollars and the number one (or two or whatever) brand name.

Open and Shut Case (2, Funny)

rueger (210566) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872816)

Liberace has a bowtie in both pictures [appleinsider.com] . That's enough to convince me!

Then again I also voted to acquit Michael Jackson...

Contois should be going after Xerox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872823)

Which is propably where Apple originally stole the idea from.

Who else can they nail... (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872827)

Lets see, who else uses their "original" patented idea? Winamp, Windows Media Player, Shoutcast, Napster, Kazaa...and jsut about every other music player out there that has a playlist.

Suffering? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872841)

Cantois is suffering because his interface looks like sh!t. Clearly this exhibit is geared to make things look as similar as possible, but it's still pretty weak.

Honestly, there's only so many ways you can do this kind of thing and patenting the obvious shouldn't stand up.

What a farce (0, Redundant)

ss_Whiplash (835609) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872852)

Who gives these people the right to "create" a totally vague, ambiguous, and obvious "idea", then fail to actually create anything of substance utilizing that "idea" and then sue others for doing the same thing? Oh... our government.

Part of the basis... (2, Insightful)

amichalo (132545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872857)

Part of the basis of the infringement is that people who would eventually work for Apple, but didn't at the time, attended a trade show where this dude was exhibiting.

The implication is that they saw his app and were so entralled at his genious to organize music by Genere, then artist, and finally album, that they quit their jobs, convinced Apple to hire them, and then applied such unique cataloging skills to iTunes.

Re:Part of the basis... (2, Funny)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872921)

his genious to organize music by Genere, then artist, and finally album

Yeah, because you know that no one had ever thought of organizing music by genre, or much less ARTIST, before then!

Re:Part of the basis... (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872938)

Part of the basis of the infringement is that people who would eventually work for Apple, but didn't at the time, attended a trade show where this dude was exhibiting.

The implication is that they saw his app and were so entralled at his genious to organize music by Genere, then artist, and finally album, that they quit their jobs, convinced Apple to hire them, and then applied such unique cataloging skills to iTunes.


What I'd like to see is Apple's barracud...err, lawyers say is "How do you know those people saw your exhibit? Prove it." I know the shows I've been to I haven't looked at everything.

Apple didn't create iTunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872874)

Erm, didn't Apple buy SoundJam and re-engineer/package it as iTunes? That being given, what possible difference could it make if two prior Contois employees now work for Apple? This is a ridiculous waste of the courts time. And yours.

Great! The more stupid lawsuits, the merrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872883)

I just can hope that we will see more and more of these frivolous lawsuits against major industry players, as this seems to me the only chance right now to get a desperately needed patent reform.

Especially in the light of the recent developements in the EU (I'm still feeling sick after the decision today), driving this absurd system against the wall by exploiting it seems like our only chance for reform.

Are you joking me? (1)

mlorentz (860043) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872887)

"Contois documented 19 interface aspects of the iTunes software that it claims are in direct violation of Contois' patent. These areas include 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."

Is there anything they won't offer a patent for these days? Can I patent turning on and off a machine by use of a "power control button"? Or maybe selecting what document to print by use of a "Print" dialog box. This is a joke if I've ever seen one...

Similar... (5, Funny)

cobrabyte (626911) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872894)

I thought (before RTFA) this was going to be another slam-shut case for Apple...

But I do have to admit that the two referenced images look eerily similar ... they both have a play button and I just won't stand for that kind of blatant idea-stealing.

-c

Of course (5, Insightful)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872904)


Contois is seeking a trial by jury.


...so they can befuddle the technologically ignorant into delivering a favorable verdict.

yawn (1)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872906)

I didn't think you could patent a UI. WTF!

Why did they wait so long to sue? They want in on the money!

mspace prior art (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872907)

As far as I know, iTunes' fundamental browsing structure is based on the concept of mspaces - see http://mspace.fm/ [mspace.fm]

mspace is a research project at the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, England.

holy shit, why hit apple, might as well do WMP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12872925)

And while you're at it, sue all of the console makers and all of the video game companies: Sony, Nintendo, EA. I guess quicktime which originated in the 80's and early nineties is fair game too. Oh, how about every juke box ever made?

www or internet (1)

kunzy (880730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872935)

A feature of the invention is also to provide a computer system that can access others media recording data bases from other sources like internet or world wide web.

Please decide... Also this is no invention.

Re:www or internet (1)

keltor (99721) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872966)

To Note: These people are also known as eMusicGear.com and as far as I know, they don't have any actual products.

Estoppel (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872954)

I've seen someone mention this before on Slashdot in some similar situation. IANAL but it basically seems to prevent someone from sitting around and allowing patent or copyright infringement until the infringer is generating a decent amount of income THEN suing them. Perhaps someone who really is a lawyer could fill in a little here. Would it apply in this case? If so it's a word all Slashdotters should know. :-)

-Don.

other media players (1)

BobVila (592015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872956)

It seems to me that Contois could have made similiar claims against a lot of other media players, including iTunes clones like Rhythmbox.

biting the hand that feeds you (3, Insightful)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872965)

Nearly every software patent I have ever seen is bogus.

Apple is getting its just deserts from supporting the software patent system.

So where is the music player of Contois (1)

The_DoubleU (603071) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872976)

I checked out emusicgear [emusicgear.com] which looks to be connected to Contois. But I can't find a musicplayer on their site. Yes, they have some software recording stuff but no "iTunes".
So please where is Apple hurting them? How many sales have the lost because of iTunes?
Patents that are not used within 2 years, should be made obsolete. You had your change to make a product, if you don't, bad luck.

Prior Art?? (4, Informative)

stang7423 (601640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872978)

Okay Here is the deal. iTunes is based on a MP3 player application Apple bought from Casady & Greene called Soundjam MP. Apple bought this app in 2001 and re-designed it into iTunes. Casady & Greene first released Sound Jam MP Two years before Apple bought them. So that would put the desing of the app at about the same time the patent was issued.

Just to clarify my above facts a little bit, Casady & Greene published SoundJam they weren't the developers. So it looks like the individuals that may or may not have been privy to the deep dark secrets of this patent originally cam from the SoundJam developer team.

now by no means was SoundJam the first MP3 player on the market, so there is going to be prior art all over this.

I'm not getting this one... (5, Informative)

rpdillon (715137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12872992)

I'm posting a bit late, but I read the entire patent. I'm not getting this - it seems like a stretch. They basically focus on the idea of a computer interface controlling a seperate "media player" type device, insofar as that involves making the device play certain music (or media) while being controlled from the computer. In the summary section, they say:

It is a feature of the invention to provide a computer user interface. The interface is for providing a user access to media pieces stored in a media database. The interface is also for controlling a media playing device, like a player piano or movie playing video device, that is coupled to the computer to play the accesses or selected piece of media.

It is another feature of the invention to provide a computer interface that allows a user to display only music that relates to a selected category, like jazz or classical. Where the user is then able to direct the media playing device to automatically play the selected music pieces related to the selected music categories.

A further feature of the invention is to provide a computer interface that allows a user to display music selections that are related only to a selected composer, like Duke Ellington or Gershwin. Where the user is then able to direct the media playing device to automatically play the selected music pieces related to the selected music composer.

Another feature of the invention is to provide a computer interface that allows a user to display only music that is related to a selected artist, like Dave Contois, or your own personal recordings. Where the user is then able to direct the media playing device to automatically play the selected music pieces related to the selected music artist.

Another feature of the invention is to provide a computer interface that allows a user to display only music that is related to a selected song or music piece, like Alexander's Rag Time Band or Andante & Rondo Capriciosso, Op. 14. Where the user is then able to direct the media playing device to automatically play the selected music piece.

A feature of the invention is also to provide a computer system that can access others media recording data bases from other sources like internet or world wide web.

It goes on and on like this. But this is the kicker:

The invention resides not in any one of these features per se, but rather in the particular combination of all of them herein disclosed and claimed and it is distinguished from the prior art in this particular combination of all of its structures for the functions specified.
(Emphasis mine)

Now, that annoys me, because they basically admit that there is tons of prior art for this stuff, and what makes their patent special is that it combines it all. Which would be fine, for example in the case of a "player piano" as they describe. But the iPod/iTunes system hardly describes a computer controlling a media player device to playback media. I would argue the controls for the iPod are , on the iPod itself. All iTunes does it supply music for download and transfer those songs, which are not then played automatically as they so many times describe, but rather are played when selected, and only after the player is disconnected from the computer, i.e. not controlled by the computer.

The ITMS certainly uses their method of selecting media (just like every other media player on the planet), but does not do so to select which songs to automatically play on an attached media device - merely to decide which songs to buy, or in the case of the iTunes software, which songs to transfer. Buying, transferring and playing are different. The patent is for playing.

Personally, I think software patents are ridiculous, but if they want to sue for infringement, it better at least be a match. They only mention the internet (or a remote database) tangentially in their patent, and don't even provide an example. I'm say Apple can take them to court and win.

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