Creative Technology Ltd. on Tuesday announced that it has been awarded
U.S. Patent 6,928,433, which it’s calling the “Zen Patent” for short. The Zen Patent describes how files on a digital music player are organized, and covers not only its own Zen and Nomad jukeboxes, but also Apple’s iPod and iPod mini, according to a statement release by the company.
The Zen Patent is summarized as “automatic hierarchical categorization of music by metadata.” Creative said the patent covers the ability for a digital music player to display music using artist, album and track menus — the way that not only Creative’s music players work, but also Apple’s.
Creative chairman and CEO Sim Wong Hoo, explained that Creative’s Nomad Jukebox was on store shelves in September 2000, 13 months before Apple’s ever saw the light of day, he said.
“Before this invention, there was no intuitive and efficient way to deal with the large number of tracks that could be stored on a high-capacity player,” Sim said.
Creative’s patent news is the latest salvo in Sim Wong Hoo’s
self-described marketing “war” against the iPod, which he first described in November, 2004.
Apple has dominated the digital music player market and the legal online music download market thanks to its iTunes Music Store and iPod music players, gaining a dominant marketshare in both segments. For its third financial quarter — its most recently announced results — Apple sold 6.15 million iPods, a 616 percent year-over-year improvement which added more than $1.1 billion to their quarterly revenue numbers.
Apple’s efforts haven’t gone unchallenged, however. In addition to Sim’s marketing war, Apple recently found themselves
on the losing end of a patent dispute over other interface elements used on the iPods — a patent which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recognized as belonging to Microsoft Corp., which had filed five months before Apple’s claim.
The significance of this wasn’t lost on Sim. “This Apple patent application was filed on October 28, 2002. A related provisional application was filed by Apple on July 30, 2002, eighteen months after our filing date for the Zen Patent and over twenty months after our NOMAD Jukebox based upon our user interface was on the market,” said Sim.
Representatives of Apple were not immediately available for comment as MacCentral posted this article.