Thursday, May 18, 2006

Maker of Zen Media Player Takes On Apple

Sci-Tech Today writes that Creative Technology's (CREAF) strategy to tackle Apple's (AAPL) iPod business head on "by competing on price, features, and flexibility" is not working so now iIt's suing Apple in a U.S. court over a patent that it says Apple's player infringes. Among other things, it's seeking an injunction that would ban the import of the iPod into the U.S. from where it's made overseas. It would also bar the sale of the device in the U.S."

According to the article, "Creative claims that the iPod infringes a patent on the menu for an MP3 player. Apple had sought to obtain a patent on a similar interface pertaining to the iPod, but its application was rejected in July, 2005. Apple was beaten to the patent punch by a matter of months. The computer maker first filed in October, 2002. Creative filed the previous May. What's more, while the final patent was awarded in August, 2005, Creative claims it first started using the interface method on its Nomad hard-drive-based players in September, 2000, nearly a year before the release of Apple's first iPod in October, 2001."

Michael Gartenberg at JupiterResearch said, "It seems to me that menuing structures like this have been around for years. It's hard to see exactly what the innovation was. If there's only one way of expressing a particular idea, then it's hard to patent it."

Garteneberg pointed out that "interface design is only part of what has made Apple successful in music players. Simple synchronization with personal computers, and the inclusion of features that improve, rather than complicate, the user experience, are also part of the package."

The fact that Creative "offers no fewer than 25 different models of digital media players, an utterly confusing array versus the seven offered by Apple" doesn't help matters.