Microsoft to allow Apple to license iPod patent?

“While Microsoft has struggled to challenge the iPod in the market, the software giant’s lawyers have managed to slow Apple Computer’s attempt to patent its digital music technology,” Ina Fried reports for CNET News. “In a ruling issued last month, a patent examiner rejected Apple’s attempt to patent some of the user interface concepts behind the popular digital music player, noting that Microsoft developer John Platt filed for similar claims five months before Apple did.”

Fried reports, “A Microsoft executive noted on Friday that the company is always open to licensing its technology. ‘In general, our policy is to allow others to license our patents so they can use our innovative methods in their products,’ David Kaefer, Microsoft’s director of intellectual property licensing, said in a statement. ‘Microsoft and Apple have previously licensed their respective patent portfolios to one another and we maintain a good working relationship with Apple.’ But in an interview, Kaefer agreed that it may be a bit premature to speculate that Apple will have to send Microsoft a check for each iPod.”

Apple “invented and publicly released the iPod interface before the Microsoft patent application cited by the examiner was filed,” Apple said in a statement.

Full article here.

Related articles:
The real story on Microsoft’s ‘Apple iPod’ playlist patent – August 12, 2005
Patent lawyer: Microsoft and Apple iPod patent saga is much ado about nothing – August 12, 2005
Microsoft beats Apple in iPod patent race? – August 11, 2005
Microsoft researcher involved in rejected Apple iPod patent – August 10, 2005
Apple’s patent application for Pod’s menu-based software interface rejected – August 09, 2005


  1. MICROSOFT are taking the piss or what!!

    FFS – anyone think they invented the iPod!

    I say Apple should fight them in the patent courts – this is bloody ridiculous – next Microsoft will put a patent in for the wheel, or the combustion engine!

    Jesus this patent thing smells of back-handers – they probably have someone on the inside or someone at Microsoft plays golf with someone at the patent office.

    The patent law NEED to be changed to say that a patent can ONLY be granted if an actual product is made – not someone thinks about doing something and patents it!

    Talk about a joke – Microsoft at it’s best!! – They can’t beat Apple in teh music market so they go down the back-handed route of trying to get the iPod OS patented before Apple – even though they haven’t even physically produced anything.

    Steve Jobs should just give Billy the finger and just install a mobile version of OSX on the iPod.

  2. my hatred of Microsoft has never been higher than it is right now.

    How f-ing gracious of them to license something to Apple that Apple invented. If there was ever a case of showing what a crap-ass company MS is, and how they haven’t got an original idea in the whole company, this is it.

  3. I read another article somewhere that Apple’s patent request was initially rejected because they had sufficient coverage in other patents. Myabe it was dead wrong and why I haven’t seen it pop back up.

    This is just weird though that Microsoft could be given a patent for something someone else invented and released to the public.

    “Perhaps” the US Patent office needs to be shaken and stirred a bit.


  4. This quotation just kills me:

    “‘In general, our policy is to allow others to license our patents so they can use our innovative methods in their products,’ David Kaefer, Microsoft’s director of intellectual property licensing, said in a statement.”

    Ha, ha!

    It’s a good thing M$ didn’t invent anything to do with it or every time an iPod was connected to a PC it would get infected with special PC iPod viruses. :-0

    MDN MW: foot as in ‘They put their foot in it again!

  5. Don’t sweat it, Apple and Microsoft have a long history of patent sharing between them.

    The real losers could be should Apple now ensure that the license is closed under an exclusivity clause denying anyone else who wishes to develop any similar device to the iPod from doing so.

    Those others, iRiver etc are already out there and have their own system of how listeners choose the music contained on that respective device.

  6. I hate Microsoft just as much as anyone above, and yes if someone said to me Microsoft invented the iPod I’ll ask them if they think Microsoft invented the wheel too? In continuance to that point from above.

    In the other news story about ZOTOB virus, this will now mean far more in the next few days including some DoS attacks against Microsoft.

    I have no shame nor sympathy for Microsoft and applaud anyone who manages to cause major problems for users of their system.

  7. Since apple will appeal this decision, it will be at this point that apple in their lodgement will state when the iPod was released and way before Microsoft lodged their claim.

    This part now disclosed is only in reference to the time Apple and Microsoft made their claims.

    I am still confident that in appeal that Apple will not have to pay Microsoft anything and be required to share this patent freely without any losses or gains to either party.

    Yes the U.S Copyright Office, if that is who lead to this PR disaster do need a shake up as it is quite likely that the laws governing them have not changed a bit since 1777 one year after Independence was gained.

  8. It must have been a very slow news week to allow such a NON-STORY to get so big.

    I suggest that everyone take a deep breath and have a look at the actual patents that were applied for.

    They have NOTHING to do with the iPOD. In fact, the iPOD had been on the market a good year before this MS patent was filed.

    Leave it to the moronic technology news corp to take something so utterly unrelated to the iPOD and turn it into this ridiculous assumption that somehow, Apple is going to have to license the iPOD from MS.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />

    This whole thing is so STUPID I can’t even believe it is still in the news.

  9. It’s been pointed out in posts on related articles that “Prior Art” from Apple will likely blow this so-called patent right out of the water. Microsoft can’t patent something that another vendor has been selling for years. Frankly, I’m surprised that the patent even made it this far.

    This isn’t the first time that Microsoft and the Patent Office has screwed up and it certainly won’t be the last. Some years ago, Microsoft offered its patented FAT-32 file system free-of-charge and the entire digital camera industry scooped it up. About a year ago, Microsoft began charging license fees for any company using its patent on the FAT-32 file structure.

    Two things happened as a result: 1) The digital camera industry removed FAT-32 as a standard and more importantly, 2) a group of programmers challanged the validity of a patent on FAT-32. The programmers successfully proved that there was nothing in FAT-32 that could be patented. The end result was that the patent on FAT-32 was cancelled by the Patent Office.

  10. I agree that this story has gone way too far. From what I understand, the issue is just that the description on Apple’s application was too broad and somehow overlapped with the MS patent. If they refine it a bit more it should be fine. I think the MS manager that was interviewed was just throwing jabs with his licensing comment.

    Tommy Boy, I hate to tell you, but the Patent office is going Windows only too. The Copyright Office solicited opinions on making theirs available o only IE, but the Patent Office didn’t even ask, they’re just doing it. The article can be found here:

  11. I don’t think this is a big issue.

    Apple clearly invented the technology and actually released it on the market prior to MSFT’s patent application. That makes MSFT’s patent unenforceable.

    Apple has two ways to go: they can sue to have MSFT’s patent vacated, or ignore MSFT’s unenforceable patent.

    Given that Apple shipped product using the technology before MSFT’s application I feel strongly that the Patent Office will be forced to vacate their patent and award it to Apple. I think this is the most likely scenario.

    The alternative is to ignore MSFT’s patent and force them to defend it in court. In court, MSFT’s patent would be deemed invalid and therefore unenforceable.

    No one else can challenge, or ignore, MSFT’s patent. If they do, Apple sues them all. The competition doesn’t have the pockets to fend off an action from either MSFT or Apple.

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