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Zen May Hold Bad Karma For Apple

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-15

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Creative has filed a lawsuit against Apple for infringing on its interface patent, and also complained to the US International Trade Commission about iPod imports and sales.

If Apple infringed on Creative's patent, then it also ran afoul of federal law covering the importation of protected items. Creative hopes to convince the ITC and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that Apple should stop selling iPods in the US.

Creative also wants a greater share of damages than it has claimed in previous actions against Apple over the "Zen Patent" as well, the company noted in a statement today. Zen is Creative's name for a line of digital media players.

The United States Patent Office issued the Zen Patent to Creative on August 9, 2005 for its invention of the user interface used by most portable digital media players, including many of the Creative Zen players and competing devices like most of Apple's highly profitable iPod line.

Creative's Zen patent covers technology used to manage and access songs on devices that can hold hundreds or thousands of them. In 2000, Creative debuted a prototype of a device with the interface at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Creative made no secret of its desire to take on the tech industry in court over the patent at that time:

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

With shares of Creative trading at 5.46, and the company suffering from a net loss of $114 million in its last quarter, a hefty payoff from Apple may be what Creative needs to remain a viable contender in the marketplace.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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