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Creative To Defend Interface Patent Rights

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the bum-bum-bummmmm dept.

Patents 244

wild_berry writes "At the London Lauch of their new 'Zen Vision: M' portable media player, Creative Labs boss Sim Wong Hoo told the BBC that he plans to defend their August 2005 patent for interfaces in portable music devices." From the article: "Creative chairman Sim Wong Hoo told the BBC News website that the company was already talking to various parties about the patent but refused to be drawn on specifics. 'We will pursue all manufacturers that use the same navigation system,' said Mr Sim. 'This is something we will pursue aggressively. Hopefully this will be friendly, but people have to respect intellectual property.'"

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244 comments

Too late to patent the "Sound Blaster", is it? (3, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211631)

Too late to patent the "Sound Blaster", is it?

Re:Too late to patent the "Sound Blaster", is it? (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211991)

What is the sound of one bit playing?

Mu.

Mu. It means "nothing", and that is exactly what has been patented here.

"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (-1, Flamebait)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211638)

1. Blatantly rip off iPod.
2. ???
3. Profit!

...where "???" in this context is apparently "file a patent on hierarchical menus (!!!), almost literally identical in every way to the menu system iPod has used for several years prior". (And, if Creative's patent covers iPod's interface elements, then why were they also not denied their patent because of a preexisting Microsoft patent, as Apple was? [macworld.com])

Seriously, look at this thing:

Zen Vision:M demo [creative.com]

Click "Be entertained". and mouse over some of the items in the room. EVERY feature, except the FM tuner, is ripped off directly from iPod, and even looks almost identical to iPod. Every bit of the interface has iPod written all over it. Menu names, screen layout, and so on.

Product page [creative.com]

Specifications [creative.com]

(Not to mention that the Zen weighs 20% more: 5.8 vs 4.8 oz)

But what's missing?

Elegant integration with software (mostly iTunes, but also things like iPhoto, iMovie, and so on).

That, and about 92% market share [com.com].

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (5, Informative)

CoderBob (858156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211689)

I haven't seen the actual patent, and don't have time to look it up at the moment, but the original Nomad used a series of nested menus for navigation- and was released well before the iPod.

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211975)

Mod the parent up. The grandparent is way off (and +5 moderation for bad information to boot!). It is far more realistic to say that ipod ripped off nomad, since nomad was released first.

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (5, Informative)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211728)

I do believe that the Creative Nomad was released well before the iPod. That said, hierarchial menus date back to, well, to very far back. Certainly before Creative was ever incorporated.

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (0, Troll)

daranz (914716) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211732)

And ipod was totally the first HDD DAP ever [cnet.com]

Though yes, the patent seems somewhat cheap.

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211867)

Well, it wasn't the _first_ DAP, but it was the first DAP that held 20GB and didn't weigh as much as a calculus textbook. I think the closest competitor at the time was the creative Nomad. Ugly, bigger than a CD player, horrible interface, and only 6GB. Not much of a surprise the iPod has 90% market share.

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (4, Insightful)

daranz (914716) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211933)

I find it strange that iPod would manage to hold the 90% of the marketshare with its features alone, at this point. There's other DAPs out there, that offer similar or sometimes even better features, and yet, if you asked your average Joe what alternatives to iPod he knows, he'd look at you funny and say "iPod nano?"

IPod not only managed to deliver a better product, they also managed to popularize it... Before iPods became popular, no mp3 players were popular - no flash player reached the level of popularity of ipods. IPods became "hip" and "cool" and that's part of their success. And that's also why Creative doesn't like Apple.

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (4, Informative)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212072)

No. When the Nomad was only 6GB the ipod didn't exist. When the ipod did exist, at only 5GB, there were already 20GB players from several companies.

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211920)

The Microsoft Patent in question is totally different then the Creative one. The patent in question there concerns an input method for a device and if you look at the Microsoft patent you will see a device that looks oddly like an iPod. This is of course assuming I remember the patents correctly.

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (4, Informative)

freshman_a (136603) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211948)


1. Blatantly rip off iPod.

uh, no...

the Nomad Jukebox was shipping about a year before the iPod was announced. Creative filed for the patent in January of 2001.

i hate this patent BS as much as the next guy, but Creative did not rip off the iPod.

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (3, Informative)

wootest (694923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212190)

The grandparent poster's referring to the look and feel of the M vs the 5G iPod, not the Nomad vs the iPod in general or the first of each one. The M is undeniably looking very similar to the 5G iPod, approaching something that's almost completely identical to the iPod menu-wise (especially when considering earlier models), AND is marketed as basically having the same features "and then some" of the very same iPod model. This is not a coincidence, and it's tough to *not* write this off as a rip-off. It's one thing to follow whoever has the most market share and compare your products to them - that's just smart marketing. This on the other hand is just shameless.

(And obviously, patents of simple interfaces like this are bullshit, no matter who files them - Apple, Microsoft, Creative or my grandma. I'm not one of the apparently many people who believe that Windows should not be allowed to exist because it has a successful GUI, and Apple was the first company to sell computers with successful GUIs in the millions (Xerox didn't). I don't personally mind Creative having intuitive menus, but I reserve my right to get pissed off with a company that does this sort of relative cloning and calls it sunshine.)

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (1)

mcho (878145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212016)

The background image (of water dropping and making ripples) is the same background of a Sony DVD player that I have...is anything original in this thing?

Re:"Creative" seems to be a misnomer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14212107)

That's ridiculous. Creative had out mp3 players long before Apple did with the same interface. There is no "blatant iPod" ripping off here, just another Apple fanboy confused that there exist products and companies outside their bloated, profit-whoring junkheap.

Just to make sure I've got this right (2, Insightful)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211655)

It's OK to copy the iPod design down to the "metal back/plastic colored front", but heaven forbid that someone should get to use their human interface (which, from what I've seen, it basically "folders that hold music instead of files".

Ah - ok. Sure.

Re:Just to make sure I've got this right (1)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211803)

folders that hold music instead of files

Surely the music collection in the folder is a series of files?

Re:Just to make sure I've got this right (2, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211893)

It is, but it's not expressed as such in the interface, which is what the grandparent was talking about.

Re:Just to make sure I've got this right (1)

jdog1016 (703094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212120)

Well, you don't have it right. Today we're talking about the iPod "ripping off" Creative's patented interface, which they ripped off the iPod. Is that more clear?

"Navigation system?" (4, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211657)

Like "play", "pause", "next", and "stop?"

To be honest, stranger things have happened. Didn't someone in England patent strawberries recently?

Re:"Navigation system?" (3, Insightful)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211698)

Hopefully this will be friendly, but people have to respect intellectual property
Market speak for "Hopefully people will bend over and accept our abuse of an overly generalized patent"?

Ha! (0)

Winckle (870180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211714)

I've got you know, I patented the process of patenting stupid patents, now you and this English gentlemen owe me alot of money!

Re:Ha! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14211842)

I have a patent on the English language, and you are seriously abusing it.

Re:Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14212276)

I have a patent on alphanumeric characters.

Pay up!

Re:"Navigation system?" (1)

javaxman (705658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211940)

Didn't someone in England patent strawberries recently?

IIRC, they tried to patent the *smell* of strawberries, and ( just recently, like last week ) were denied.

Differences between Defensive and not. (5, Insightful)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211676)

I had a sudden thought when reading over this summary. Companies say that they are only patenting software/interfaces/whatever as a defensive strategy. Knowing how some justifications work ("I was only following orders." and such), I wonder how long it is before statements such as "We were defending our right to profit from our patents" become commonplace. I mean, after all, if you have something like a patent, just about everything you do in terms of litigation is 'defense' of that patent, whether you sue them or they sue you.

Re:Differences between Defensive and not. (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211754)

Whoa - you're a little behind the times. It's hardly a defense - as a matter of a fact, I read Mr. Sim Wong Hoo's statements to be quite agressive and offensive (as in offense vs. defense.)

Using patents to profit is definately commonplace, as more and more "Patent Holding Firms" pop up all over the place, like say, Eolas.

Make no mistake, this is not defensive. This is a proven, reliable, dirty business practice. Apply for a patent, if we get it, sue the shit out of everyone that might have something similar. This is no longer about who invents something or does something first, it is about who first has the money to file the patent application.

Defensive means defence from lawsuits (4, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211817)

Most companies get defensive patents not to " defending our right to profit from our patents", but to have something to countersue with if they get sued, or to have something to get into cross-licensing agreements to avoid even more lawsuits. Truth is, patents are a real pain - and if it wasn't for defensive purposes, most companies wouldn't bother.

So in truth, people are forced into the system even if they think patnets are evil. (Which I do)

essay: A Violent Protest Against Patents [slashdot.org]

Creative produces shoddy products (4, Insightful)

linuxguy (98493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211679)


I have bought their mp3 player, speakers, webcams and a few other items. It is clear to
me that they really make very bad products. I have already settled on never buying
another Creative product.

This latest patent scam merely affirms my beliefs.

Zen Micro sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14211735)

My girlfriend got a free one from somebody who replaced theirs with an ipod. She ended up throwing it away because the interface to transfer music was so slow and convoluted. Pointing it at a network drive full of mp3s just caused it to churn for 15 minutes then lock up.

Me too (1)

supersocialist (884820) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211741)

I've had some serious bad luck with my SB Live cards. GTA San Andreas in particular didn't like the drivers, which were hard to get to install properly. Creative's install let XP's "emulated" sound drivers run the show, and their own drivers (which I got to install after a load of fussing) crashed nearly as often. I was told time and time again on help forums that I ought to just buy their $25,000 (approx) sound card, which, it was claimed, actually worked.

Re:Me too (1)

timster (32400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211857)

A twenty-five-thousand-dollar SOUND CARD? I notice that your nick is "supersocialist"... what are these, Soviet dollars?

Re:Me too (1)

supersocialist (884820) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212082)

I was merely approximating. It might have been a little less, but it was definitely significantly more than I was willing to pay for a sound card.

Re:Creative produces shoddy products (1)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211960)

Wow, I too have purchased their products. I have their FPS2000 Digital 4.1 speakers circa 2000 and still love them. Their soundcards rock. The fact that they copied the interface from the ever famed iPod and decided that since Apple isn't smart enough to patent their interface, and now they will patent it. Its auctually quite smart. What about all those other patents for crap. Recently on slashdot, Microsoft went on a pointless patent attack. This one is smart and will probably end up in making Creative a lot of money.

Re:Creative produces shoddy products (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212209)

"The fact that they copied the interface from the ever famed iPod and decided that since Apple isn't smart enough to patent their interface, and now they will patent it."

There's a minor issue known as 'prior art'. You can't patent something which is already in general use.

Re:Creative produces shoddy products (1)

Maarek_1 (740578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212293)

Then you will be glad to know that the patent application was filed before the Ipod was released. Apple did in fact attempt to patent the UI, but were rejected due to (get this) prior art...namely the Creative UI application.

Re:Creative produces shoddy products (2, Insightful)

Miraba (846588) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212225)

Anecdotes are not statically valid. I own their Micro and am perfectly happy with it (even after having dropped it multiple times). Your data could be valuable, as you've bought multiple products from them, but without giving information on what they specifically are (and how you might have abused them), your data isn't usuable.

Now, if you were to find some data on the % of units that have experienced problems (other brands too), that would be a different story. Consumer Reports does that for appliances as well as computers, so I wouldn't be surprised to see some real data come out in a few years.

Re:Creative produces shoddy products (3, Insightful)

DorkusMasterus (931246) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212258)

I personally have no opinion on Creative's product line, as I typically have no brand loyalty whatsoever... but, I don't understand how you can think they suck, yet you've bought all these things from them? That's like me saying "Well, after buying everything Sears sells, I won't buy anything else from them." I mean, I'm really honestly not trying to be flamebait here, but it does kind of seem kind of an odd statement to make, without qualification. Was Creative originally a good company, and now turned crappy, or have they always been crappy, and you've just kept on buying? ;)

iPod prior art? (2, Interesting)

blackcoot (124938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211681)

surely apple has several years of prior art in the iPod, which begs the question: why is creative bothering, other than to abuse the legal system in an attempt to get an injunction against iPod sales during a crucial retail season...

Re:iPod prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14211788)

surely apple has several years of prior art in the iPod, which begs the question: why is creative bothering, other than to abuse the legal system in an attempt to get an injunction against iPod sales during a crucial retail season...

I no longer attempt to see rhyme or reason in the behavior of corporations. I think they just fight over bullshit patents because it's in their nature.

Re:iPod prior art? (4, Insightful)

mreed911 (794582) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211823)

why is creative bothering, other than to abuse the legal system in an attempt to get an injunction against iPod sales during a crucial retail season...

Two reasons:

1) Press. Apple still dominates the press, and Creative has no ads on TV that I've seen anywhere, while even my daughter, who hates Eminem, catches herself singing along with the iPod commercials. Apple also has bands ready, willing and able to release songs for their commercials - and those songs become hits. Apple his mindshare, and Creative doesn't. This lawsuit gets Creative some press, press that they're not paying for with marketing dollars, although it wouldn't be hard to qualify this entire lawsuit as marketing expense.

2) The off-chance that it might work. I think Creative fails to recognize, though, that their shareholders are likely to be less than impressed if Creative's main source of income in the DAP market is from iPod royalties on an interface patent. If you were a Creative stockholder, would you want to invest in a company that gets a very, very small percentage of profits from a competitor's product sale through an interface patent royalty; or would you rather invest in the competitor making the better product as a whole, and the larger overall profit from it? Oh, yeah, and are you willing to risk the time, expense and uncertainty of a legal battle?

It's sad, really. Creative makes some fantastic audio products, but they're primarily oriented around input/output for PC's. I can understand why they entered the DAP market, I really can, but to compete on patent assertions instead of product niche? Disappointing.

Re:iPod prior art? (2, Insightful)

Gogo Dodo (129808) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211825)

Because they're getting their butts handed to them in the market. So in desperation, they have turned to the legal system. Sound familiar?

Re:iPod prior art? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14211963)

Of course, it's America; If you can't get ahead through innovation and hardwork, then litigate!!

Netscape comes to mind: Browsers are free, then Netscape decides to charge for browsers. Microsoft releases free browser, Netscape gets mad and sues!

SCO is another great example.

Then we can look at all of the insanely stupid lawsuits such as suing McDonald's for making you a fat fuck.

Re:iPod prior art? (1)

gordo3000 (785698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211909)

except the ipod wasn't anywhere near the first mp3 player or the first one with a navigation menu like it uses. it basically took the things that worked and put them together. and added a nice touch scroll wheel.

the reason these lawsuits are starting now is probably because the patent was filed for years ago and is just now being approved(as it usually happens).

Re:iPod prior art? (5, Informative)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211942)

the iPod is a relative newcomer to the MP3 market. Creative were making hard disk mp3 players long before Apple ever dreamed of them. They were practially the only players on the market in 1999-2000, and they used the same type of heirarchial naviation that the iPod uses.

That's not to say that Creative have a legal case they should be able to press in respect to the patent (for heirarchial display of files by category) as the patent is so f**king obvious that is should never have been granted.

Re:iPod prior art? (4, Informative)

im_mac (927998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212036)

Creative's patent was applied for in 2001, before the iPod's debut later that same year. Creative says they used that system in earlier mp3 players as well. So no, there is no prior art from Apple.

woot!! (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211696)

Now I can get some traction protecting my patent for "A Rotary Device For Increasing Or Decreasing The Volume".

Re:woot!! (1)

hometoast (114833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211836)

I believe there is prior art on this, at least the ones that go to 11!

Don't worry, It's the US Patent Office (1)

Biff Stu (654099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211928)

Nobody checks for prior art anyhow. Just make sure that it goes to 12 and you'll be OK! The last time I checked 12 is higher than 11. I'm sure that the patent examiners would see this as an innovation.

In Design for Over a Year (1)

Pray_4_Mojo (13485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211701)

I love how they claim this isn't a ripoff of the iPod video.
In the article (yes, I still read them) the creative spokesdroid states "This has been in design for over a year."

Its too bad the iPod's form factor has pretty much been the same since coming out in 2001.

Nice try, tho.

Re:In Design for Over a Year (2, Interesting)

mreed911 (794582) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211894)

In the article (yes, I still read them) the creative spokesdroid states "This has been in design for over a year."

Its too bad the iPod's form factor has pretty much been the same since coming out in 2001.

A search of ThinkSecret's archives puts a start date on rumors of the video iPod [thinksecret.com] around the time of MacWord Expo 2003.

Intellectual property (1)

Psithe (891219) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211719)

people have to respect intellectual property.'
Well, as long as we own it anyway...

huh? creative took the interface from apple (0, Flamebait)

lashi (822466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211724)

Doesn't the new Zen vision M looks like a rip off of the iPod ? How can they patent the interface they copied from Apple? I mean just look at this picture.


http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000157071380/ [engadget.com]

Re:huh? creative took the interface from apple (1)

mreed911 (794582) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212012)

How can they patent the interface they copied from Apple?

This is how the industry works.

Xerox PARC --> Microsoft/Apple --> Gnome/KDE

Ever notice how it's ALL the same? It's ALL built on what came before?

Gnome/KDE is obviously based on the Win9x GUI, which carries through to this day. That was based on the Apple GUI, which was based on earlier Win3x GUI's, what was "stolen" from PARC in the first place.

The same plays out in ANY tech market. Someone comes up with a product, and someone else modifies it and sells that. Hopefully, the modification is enough to actually be different from the original, not just spit-polished and spray-painted. Now that it's cheaper all-around to make gizmos, and because you can profit faster, then just go out of business with your lump of cash when you get sued, why NOT copy, resell and fold?

Who cares if it's "right" or not, and who cares about intellectual property rights - except of course the guy who DESERVES the credit for the original invention - but why care about him - he got enough to not be considered as "gotten screwed," right?

Gah... I'm gonna have a stroke now! /me runs off screaming, looking for a straightjacket

Zen Patent (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14211752)

Sound of one hand clapping....

LoL

The ONLY way they can make money... (1)

uzada (31275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211756)

They don't have much choice for making cash other than pursuing these patents. Their devices are also-rans and have been since the iPod. Their newest offering looks suspiciously like the Champ's. Not that there is a lot of sympathy to pour on Apple here either. They're presumably revving up the legal engine to sue Creative for copying the look of the ipod or somesuch.

As to the Creative chairman's comments about focusing only on the technology and selling people on that -- when was the last time that worked? When over the past couple of years did that seem like a good idea. Sure, if your technology is a breakthrough, but slapping videos on something the size of my cell phone? And doing it after the Showman already released his version? And what does it do differently than the champ? Support a few more formats heard of only by the slashNerds? C'mon!

The real answer is purple. It worked for Prince. You need purple devices. That'll differentiate your product. Plus Purple has the most RAM.

Re:The ONLY way they can make money... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211998)

The real answer is purple. It worked for Prince. You need purple devices. That'll differentiate your product. Plus Purple has the most RAM.
Creative does sell purple MP3 players! [creative.com] (see "360 demo")

Quick question... (5, Insightful)

Havenwar (867124) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211764)

Hopefully this will be friendly, but people have to respect intellectual property.

Ah yes, but do we have to respect intellectual bullshit? To allow someone to patent "the way files are organised and navigated on a player using a using a hierarchy of menus" is about as logical as allowing someone to patent the way of transportation that involves putting the rearward foot infront of the front foot and then repeating.

Come on, for as long as there has been more than one menu on ANY electronic device they have had the need to put them into a hierarchy, right? Oh, I know, let's patent the use of language on a display! No, there is no prior art, because my patent is only related to this new kind of display... I think it's called LCD.

Re:Quick question... (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211885)

"on an LCD" is about as novel as "on the internet"

Re:Quick question... (1)

Havenwar (867124) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212026)

and "on a portable music device" is about as novel as "on a computer". Walkmans, discmans, minidisc players... any laptop. Any pda. Any cellphone.

It is Wong to patent a file tree (4, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211766)

"It applies to the way music tracks are organised and navigated on a player through a hierarchy using three or more successive screens."

So if Creative wins this suit, should you also be sued for using the buttons on/off, play, pause, stop, rewind and fast-forward? Or should you have to rename them iniate/power down, engage, hesitate, halt, go-back and go-forth?

If at first you don't succeed .... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14211770)

Putting a hardware product to market (the reception to Creative's much earlier sound players was lukewarm compared to the takeoff of the iPod), sue the ones that do succeed in that market.

Is there truly anything innovative about using hierarchical menus to act as an interface to a music collection? They are files. Files in a hierarchical system. Files in a hierarchical system that also happen to encode music. There is nothing original here. If they want to patent the hardware, fine, but the interface is obvious to people "skilled in the art", especially as soon as people put more than, oh, 6 songs on their player and they run out of screen space.

Full points for getting there first as a mass-produced product of this particular type, but this Creative patent makes as much sense as Ford trying to patent the wheel.

Re:If at first you don't succeed .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14211859)

To the folks saying that Creative is copying apple...

You're wrong.

Apple copied Creative (not a fanboy here just stating facts).

Creative had their Jukebox player on the market almost 2 years prior to the first iPod was put on the market. Rio was right on Creatives heals as well. In fact Creative and Rio didn't pay attention to Apple at first because their marketshare on the PC side was so limited they thought their brand had little ability to penetrate the mainstream.

My my my...what a few commercials with shadows and colors will do.

The patent covers more of the software inside the players and how the software manages songs.

I know Apple zealots...I've spoken against the almighty Jobs. I will pay for my sins (or something like that).

To be honest I couldn't care less. I do find it amusing though how Apple TOTALLY screws over their fanbase with the screwed up screens and batteries on the Nano and their zealots eat up the excuses by Jobs and crew with no hesitation. Mr.Gates should have spent more time in those mind control seminars as well methinks.

Re:If at first you don't succeed .... (2, Insightful)

symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212030)

Your post is testament to the fact that these kinds of patents are nasty, and can only create a huge drain on resources that would otherwise be spent on trying out new ideas. Creative tries something, their implementation sucks, and consumers don't go for it. Apple tries something similar, but gets it "right" - according to the sales numbers at least - and Creative gets all bent because Apple used "their IP".

This is exactly why patents will kill innovation. Consumers will either be tied to an IP "owner", who could easily be producing an inferior product, or pay a premium to a competitor who uses the idea (licensing it from the "owner"), but makes a far better product. In this scenario, both producers and consumers are penalized for making and buying superior products, and companies that can't quite pull it off, are rewarded. This has "half-assed backward" written all over it.

If this goes through, maybe things will change (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211790)

Let's face it,
-Creativity (ie design, written words, picture) are protected by copyright.
-Ingenuity is protected by patents (at least it used too..)

Here Creative Labs wants to use a patent to protect a design (Apple tried too, but too late)
If Apple looses the Ipod menu design, maybe people will finally wake up and see how Fscked the USPTO really is.

What exactly would Apple be paying them for? (3, Interesting)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211794)

So they say Apple has to respect their intellectual property. It is curious, since in most business contracts, when one party pays up, the other gets something valuable in return. What does Apple get from paying? They have thought up the interface themseleves, and Creative's only claim on it is that they have thought of it first. If Apple has never seen Creative's patent, what exactly would they be paying for? Creative did no work for them and gave them nothing of value and yet Apple has to pay up anyway? Usually this is called "extortion". In the modern times we call it the "patent system".

Re:What exactly would Apple be paying them for? (1)

spacefiddle (620205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212235)

No, you're not understanding the scary realities here. This retroactively rewrites reality (say that X times fast).

If the patent goes through, then it is a "legal fact" that Creative "thought of it first." Whatever "it" happens to be defined as. There is no 'everybody knows' in a court of law unless or until the court declares that everybody knew it.

This is the CRUCIAL ISSUE OF PATENTS (now i will be sued by a RAM manufacturer). I make something, you use it, you make something, we all use it, everybody makes their own, Fred patents it, it goes through. From that point on, Fred thought of it, and if you don't agree, you have the freedom to be sued.

colecovision already did this in the 70's, right? (1)

passingNotes.com (936024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211806)

aren't there more important things to worry about than claiming invention rights over on and off buttons and round and square pads? honestly, i've seen this interface already as a CHILD when coleco introduced a rounded dial-pad interface on the colecovision game console...anybody see coleco going after apple and others? no. why? not sure, are they all dead over there?

Re:colecovision already did this in the 70's, righ (1)

The Lynxpro (657990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212316)

"aren't there more important things to worry about than claiming invention rights over on and off buttons and round and square pads? honestly, i've seen this interface already as a CHILD when coleco introduced a rounded dial-pad interface on the colecovision game console...anybody see coleco going after apple and others? no. why? not sure, are they all dead over there?"

Uhm, the numeric keypad on the ColecoVision/ADAM was not round. And that was not a Coleco exclusive anyway; the Intellivision and the Atari 5200 (and later the Atari Jaguar) also featured numeric keypads on their gaming controllers. So how is that relevant to the Apple vs. Creative discussion?

Stay away (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14211812)

Please don't buy products from this company. They look to sell your their product and then hang you out to dry. I payed $300 for the Zen Touch, under the impression that there would be firmware updates to increase the useability (scrolling is the biggest pain ever....its very "touchy" to be exact...move your finger 1mm and it moves 2 songs, then move it another mm and it moves 4 songs. Still can't figure out how to reliably select a song without missing it a few times on the menu.), and 2 years later, its still a nuissance to scroll with.

Re:Stay away (1)

Miraba (846588) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212088)

I haven't played with a Zen Touch, but here's how you do it on the Micro:

System -> Player Settings -> TouchPad -> Sensitivity (High, Medium, Low)

According to the Zen Touch firmware page [nomadworld.com] release 1.01.03 "improves the display order of the Touch Pad sensitivity settings," so there must be sensitivity setting buried somewhere.

If you've already tried that and the lowest setting is still too sensitive, maybe you should gather some like-minded people from the web (they're easy enough to find) and send some e-mails to Creative. It might not get them to pay attention, but it's worth a shot if you plan to use the Touch for a while longer.

Tech versus branding? (3, Insightful)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211827)

""We are focused on the technology... This is still a technology marketplace... This is the key difference between a technology company and a branding company," he [Creative chairman Sim Wong Hoo] said, taking a side-swipe at Apple's successful marketing campaign for its iPod.

There was a message in your cluemail: The digital player market is no longer a "technology marketplace". You really look like an idiot when you make statements like this after losing to iPod, a battle that nobody even noticed you were fighting. Apple had the tech, the marketing strategy, the partnerships. You can't win with just technology in competitive markets.

Re:Tech versus branding? (2, Insightful)

alexhs (877055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211953)

Didn't you get it ?

"technology company" is now a synonym of "patenting/suing company" ;)

Patents Limit Innovation (2, Insightful)

Dick_Stallmanat0r (937057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211847)

Most people that support patent laws argue that they are necessary to promote innovation. Without patents, people would have no incentive to innovate, since their ideas would just get ripped off immediately. While at first this may seem like a valid argument, it is in fact far from that.

First of all, laws are created to serve society. In theory, society's rights supercede those of patent/copyright holders. Patents and copyrights only exist (in theory and law, if not in practice) because (and to the extent that) they benefit society. They are NOT an inherent right.

The argument then is that patents benefit society by encouraging innovation. If, as I believe is true in this case, patents are LIMITING innovation by requring every inventor to reinvent the wheel. Clearly they are not serving their purpose, and should be abolished.

Re:Patents Limit Innovation (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212095)

> LIMITING innovation by requring every inventor to reinvent the wheel.

If only...

It's worse than that because if your reinvented wheel looks even remotely like "The Original Wheel" (TM) you would still be infringing upon that patent.

So you would need to reinvent *on purpose* a wheel sufficiently different to avoid infrigement, leading to imaginative shapes like spherical wheels, triangular wheels...

Re:Patents Limit Innovation (3, Insightful)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212133)

Sometimes, patents are truly a great invention, and deserve protection.

A patent should be non-obvious, something like the Dyson cyclone cleaner or the way that John Harrison worked out for measuring longtitude. Typically where someone applies some lateral thinking to the problem in a way that other skilled people in the same field would miss.

Unlike many other inventions, software ones are either functionally possible, or not. It is simply a matter of functional decomposition. The constraints are known. When an inventor builds a new type of machine, they do not, and there are many attempts at inventions that simply fail. Likewise, for drug companies. They may pursue an idea and go down many blind alleys before succeeding. Then, there are the costs of drug testing. For these, I think that patents have a place. If you didn't have patents, you'd have to rely on charities or government to create new drugs.

Consumer devices like this may have R&D costs, but it's also about being first to market, getting a lead on other companies to have to write software to do something similar. This is not the same as copying a drug, where formulations have to be public, and therefore, get no market lead. That's the equivalent of saying "no copyright on software" - people would not produce commercial software.

Re:Patents Limit Innovation (2, Informative)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212167)

Societies don't have rights. Individuals have rights. At least here in the United States that's how it works (or did before we decided that a little communism would add flavor to our democratic republic.) In a communist country perhaps the State has rights that individuals do not, but it is a dangerous thought to suggest that a collection of people should have more rights than an individual.

Remember (1)

RoscBottle (937276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211862)

Friends don't let friends buy Creative...

Re:Remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14212024)

Friends don't let friends buy Creative...
isn't there a patent for that phrase??

Patent on crap sound cards? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211904)

They should file a patent on sound cards that use more system resources then every other device in your computer. Thats one I'd be OK with them defending.

"friendly"? "respect"? riiiiiiight (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211911)

Hopefully this will be friendly, but people have to respect intellectual property.

First, it's already unfriendly. From all appearances, it's downright thievery.

Second, your demand for my respect only serves to justify my disrespect.

Dream patent enforcement scenario (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14211914)

I'd like to see the Creative/iPod patent and the NTP/Blackberry patent both result in injunctions for stopping of sales/service on the same day. Maybe hordes of angry executives and angry music fans would get the lawmakers off their asses and reform the patent system.

OK, it's fanciful, but a guy can dream, can't he?

Re:Dream patent enforcement scenario (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14212118)

Maybe hordes of angry executives and angry music fans would get the lawmakers off their asses and reform the patent system.

Mod parent insightful! While consumers get trampled on in this fracas, they're not losing anything as long as one company comes out a winner and fills the product void. The executives, on the other hand, have everything at stake - their company, their job, their board of directors, their stockholders, their institutional investors...

If patent suits were more punative, and had stronger injunctions up front, it'd be a mutually-assured-desctruction type scenario... talk about going nuclear!

Forget the Trees, Check out This Forest! (4, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14211919)

Lots of comments about, "iPod did it first." Umm, forget about the trees for a second folks. Look at the forest. Creative labs got a patent for hierarchical traversal of a structured content repository. Have any of you used a file browser? iPod didn't do it first and this isn't about iPod versus Creative. This is about the USPTO granting fiat monopolies (patents) to anybody who adds a new word to existing public domain technical innovation; in this case "directory browser + MP3 player". The problem isn't who should have rights to the idea, but that the idea should not have been patentable.

Re:Forget the Trees, Check out This Forest! (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212255)

Exactly. It's obvious.

It's like saying that you can patent a car wheel because it's no longer just a wheel, but one that has spokes and helps a car go round.

Patents should require lateral thinking, should reward true innovation. Where someone looks at a problem and thinks "I have another way". And it's a way that's never been visited before. And if you asked a dozen engineers, they wouldn't think of it, and if then shown the alternative would either dismiss it as ludicrous or scratch their heads, smile and say "cool".

Things like the jet engine, the transistor, Dyson's cleaner, the biro, the paperclip. These deserve patents, not doing what almost any software engineer would have done given the option.

Oppertunistic greed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14212014)

Creative labs yet another predatory company that does not deserve the prividege of doing buisness. When they used their legal muscel to to take John Carmack's work for private use without compensation by way of an illigitimate patent, I decided to never buy anything from them again.

They are repeatedly patenting ideas that do not belong to them. Worst of all, these patents should never have been granted, and never would have been granted by a competent patent office. They are showing nothing more than oppertunistic greed.

Subject Goes Here (3, Insightful)

viewtouch (1479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212025)

Hopefully this will be friendly, but people have to respect intellectual property.

To that I say, Hopefully, this will be friendly, but Creative has to respect the idea that a patent based on the idea of pushing a button to navigate a hierarchy on a display and the idea that this can be considered to be anybody's property, intellectual or otherwise, is total bullshit.

people have to ... (1)

WickedLogic (314155) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212064)

Hopefully this will be friendly, but people have to respect intellectual property.

Do we eh? intellectual property is a term thrown around by so many people that want money for anything they create. These people would not be able to say such stupid things, if they were reduced to talking about copyright, trademarks, and patents. I.P. refers to those, not some magical new thing that is going to make you money. We are being out performed by other regions of the world now, and these people are so desperate to try and claim they have a right to thought and design, just because... and that right includes money.

My favorite is when some calls it intelligent property, people need to think about getting stuff done and making the world a better place, not nickle and diming humanity. especially over something as superficial as an interface.

That tears it! (2, Funny)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212080)

I've decided to finally place my patent on a "device which presents the user with a selection of paper sheets, arranged in logical order, upon which words and/or pictures are imprinted". Everyone who manufactures, sells, or reads a book owes me money. My intellectual property must be respected!

Some Reason in the Crowd (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212084)

US Patent Number 6,928,433

I do not have the time to analyze the claims right now, but if you people would really enjoy an attempt to explain why this may not be as evil as you think then please let it be known by replying.

Please note the application was filed in Jan. 2001 which pre-dates the iPod's release by about 9 months. It is important to note the claims are limited the device being a portable media player. I would be interested to see, however, if their use of the term track (and keeping it fairly tied to the idea of music) might not limit their idea to only music. It is something that would need to be tested in court at this point, but it could be an "unintended" limitation on them.

Re:Some Reason in the Crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14212307)

Both my laptop and my PDA are a portable media players. They predate both the iPod and Creative's patent by many years. Both let me view files in general, and music files in specific, in a heirarchy.

The patent covers an obvious idea. It does not matter what it is applied to. Anyone who says otherwise is either a layman, not a critical thinker, or a shill for Creative Labs.

related, yet different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14212126)

I don't intend this to be flame bait ...

How many of you vote?
And of those you who actually vote, how many of you actually write letters to your representative, or parlementarian?
And of those of you who actually write letters, how many of you actually get involved with your democratice process? Folks, this is where policey gets set, so if you aren't involved, then you don't have all much to complain about.

Obvious?!? (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212148)

There are only so many ways to select songs. "Their hierarchal navigation system" looks and smells just like standard window menus (File, Edit, View, ...) to me except instead of using a mouse to generate events (such as up, down, ...) they have buttons. There are only so many ways to do things and if it is so obviously not new why the hell did they get a patent? Really, anyone with a bit of thought would have hit upon something similar!

Yet another get rich scheme? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14212216)

I guess Crappy Labs hasn't really learnt anything from SCO?

Creative (1)

ikejam (821818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14212253)

As almost all other patent issues it boils down to a flawed system, one that grants ridiculous patents but we knew that already. repeatedly. sub-consciously by now. though Creative has a bit of my sympathy. I mean before apple totally trashed them, they were producing mp3 players for a long time, which i see as basically a good thing. uhm ok not very slick even though feature rich of a good thing. Along with iriver and all, they were one of the pioneers of mp3 players, w/o drm bullshit, and i felt their pricing was always reasonable. Give them credit also for making popular pcs have soundcards but thats offtopic. I like the patent mess about as much as any other /.er, and this is not a flamebait.
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