Beleaguered Creative on Apple’s lawsuits ‘retaliation’ and patent disputes

As Creative launched yet another “iPod killer” (this time an “iPod nano killer”) that trumpets the usual list of obviously unimportant extras such as support for subscription services, built-in FM radio, and built-in voice recorder, Wired’s Eliot Van Buskirk and Sean Michaels asked Creative’s Spokesman Phil O’Shaughnessy about the ongoing legal battles with Apple:

O’Shaughnessy said that the company anticipated Apple’s retaliation, but that Creative’s patented method for categorizing music on a portable screen was not obvious, as some critics have complained (when people tell him that the idea of browsing by Artist, Genre, etc. is intuitive, he says “Thank you!”).

News that Apple tried to license the navigation method from Creative before the iPod was released backs up this claim, as does the fact that the HanGo/Remote Solutions Portable Jukebox PJB-100 — the only hard drive-based MP3 player in the world before Creative’s first HD-based player — could only sort by folder and filename.

Only time will tell whether Creative will succeed in blocking iPods from being imported (O’Shaugnessy estimates that the ITC will take a few months to decide, but that the North District of California will take longer to reach a decision on whether the iPod infringes Creative’s patented menu design).

Full article here.
Does Creative really think they have a chance of some measure of success (settlement) with their litigation or is their spokesman just spinning as spokesmen are wont to do? If Creative really had a case, why didn’t they sue Apple immediately upon debut of the original iPod, instead of finally resorting to litigation only after years of failing to compete with Apple’s iPod?

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Related articles:
Creative issues press release: U.S. ITC to investigate Apple iPod for patent infringement – June 14, 2006
Apple plays hardball: files counter-suit against beleaguered Creative in sympathetic Texas court – June 07, 2006
Apple files second lawsuit against beleaguered Creative Technology – June 06, 2006
Apple Computer sues beleaguered Creative for iPod patent infringement – May 18, 2006
Apple suit seen hurting beleaguered Creative in long run – May 17, 2006
Beleaguered Creative’s lawsuit against Apple for alleged iPod patent infringement shows desperation – May 16, 2006
Beleaguered Creative sues Apple for alleged iPod patent infringement – May 15, 2006
Beleaguered Creative Technology circles the bowl – May 02, 2006
Beleaguered Creative Technology reports largest operating loss in at least five years – April 10, 2006
Joke of the Day: Red Herring headline: ‘Creative may be iPod threat’ – February 28, 2006
S&P Equity downgrades Creative Technology, cites ‘increased competition from Apple Computer’ – February 14, 2006
Apple unveils new 1GB iPod nano for $149; iPod shuffle now starting at just $69 – February 07, 2006
Beleaguered Creative reports 95-percent slump in quarterly profit – January 26, 2006
Don’t call them podcasts! Derivative, er, Creative introduces ZenCast app for ‘audio & video blogs’ – January 04, 2006
Creative’s Zen Vision:M green with Apple iPod envy – December 09, 2005
Apple faces prospect of bruising iPod patent dispute from Creative Technology – December 09, 2005
Creative Technology’s official press relase for Zen Vision:M Apple iPod knockoff – December 08, 2005
Creative’s Sim Wong Hoo vows to ‘aggressively pursue’ Apple over iPod patent – December 08, 2005
Creative announces 30GB Zen Vision:M video-enabled ‘iPod killer’ – December 07, 2005
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Beleaguered Creative shifts promotional efforts from music players to new sound card line – September 21, 2005
Apple debuts iPod nano, iTunes 5: how are Microsoft, Napster, Real, Creative, Sony feeling today? – September 08, 2005
Creative explores new way to beat Apple iPod: patent litigation – August 30, 2005
Creative plans ‘very vigorous defense’ of iPod navigation patent – August 31, 2005
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Apple’s iPod shine dims beleaguered Creative Technology’s outlook – August 08, 2005
Microsoft not buying stake in Creative Technology – August 02, 2005
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Analyst: Microsoft could buy Creative Technlogy in bid to compete with Apple iPod – July 14, 2005
Beleaguered Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo ‘optimistic’ the company will survive ‘MP3 war’ – July 01, 2005
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Creative Tech cuts sales outlook, drags Apple down in early trading – June 27, 2005
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Apple’s understanding of what really counts makes iPod+iTunes impossible to beat – June 22, 2005
Creative Technology shares slide to lowest mark in almost two years – May 18, 2005
Apple squeezes and Creative’s profit plunges 72-percent – April 23, 2005
Apple iPod pressure forces Creative to drop prices on music players – March 01, 2005
Creative’s self-declared ‘MP3 player war’ against Apple isn’t going very well – January 20, 2005
Creative CEO: Apple iPod shuffle ‘a big let-down, worse than the cheapest Chinese player’ – January 12, 2005
Creative declares ‘war’ on Apple iPod, shoots for 40% market share of MP3 players – December 21, 2004
Creative Technology declares ‘MP3 War’ against market-dominating Apple iPod – November 17, 2004
Mossberg: Dell, Rio, Creative ‘iPod mini killers’ lag badly behind Apple iPod mini – October 27, 2004
Creative pushes to become ‘Pepsi’ to Apple’s ‘Coke’ in digital music player market – August 07, 2004


  1. the problem with MDN’s take is that it doesn’t fscking matter WHEN they decide to sue for infringement, as long as it’s within the statute of limitations.

    The BIG problem is that Creative can prove that Apple tried to license their patent before they introduced the iPod, and if you can act like that is NOT a bullet in the head, then you are lying to yourself AND your readers.

    MW: idea… Sounds like Apple had the idea to steal the navigation system from Creative… and it appears they CAN prove it!

  2. The attempt to license was actually an attempt to work together, wasn’t it? Creative refused. Just as Sony refused to collaborate on the music store– they thought THEY were the leaders and wouldn’t work with Apple.

    It’s not a clear-cur winner for either side.

  3. If Creative really had a case, why didn’t they sue Apple immediately upon debut of the original iPod, instead of finally resorting to litigation only after years of failing to compete with Apple’s iPod?

    Uh because Creative’s patent was pending?

    After all it has to be researched first and all that then approved for a patent, because this takes so long it gives competitor like Apple a chance to introduce copies.

    (I know I’m talking blasphemy here, just amuse my devil’s advocate position will you?)

    Apple stood to gain immensely from making the iPod and the risk of a successful patent suit was worth all the billions they made.

    It’s done all the time in business, just look at the Kodak / Polaroid lawsuit. Polaroid finally won, but new technology (digital) finally kicked both players from the market. But who got the most cash? Kodak.

    Look at the Apple/Microsoft lawsuit.

    So Apple learned it can do the same thing, who cares, as long as Apple wins I don’t care who they demolish.

  4. Creative is a total POS company, perhaps close to Microsoft.

    They refused to make their 3DLabs video cards Mac compatible for Lightwave and Maya.

    Their webmasters and moderators would laugh at our requests for their cards.

    May Creative die.

  5. All Apple needs to do is show that someone was organizing music by Artist, Genre, etc before Creative. Doesn’t matter that they were talking to Creative before. Then it’s a matter of Creative ripping off an obvious, already existing idea and then patenting it as original only serves to prove how broken the U.S. patent system is. My money is on the outcome that by the end of it all, Creative’s patent will be invalidated and overturned.

    It’s simply not credible that the people who invented ID3 tags for MP3 files weren’t envisioning that the tags would be used to allow computers to sort music by genre, title, and artist! Creative did not invent those tags on which their sorting patent absolutely relies upon![/b[

  6. Let me try that again: Creative’s patent to sort relies on the ID3 tags embedded in the MP3 files. A group of people other than Creative created those tags expressly for the purpose of allowing people to sort their music files by artist, genre, title, etc.

    It is just totally ridiculous for Creative to claim that they invented “sorting by genre or artist” when the very program they use in their players depends on the ID3 tag orginally invented by Eric Kemp in 1996.

    It is entirely obvious that the tag was created to allow people to do exactly such a thing, so the patent is completely and utterly bogus. The only thing creative is the fact that Creative ripped off someone else’s idea and now has the gall to go around claiming they invented it!

  7. If it’s true Apple tried to license the Creative model, that looks pretty bad. It’s an acknowledgment that Creative already had the system they wanted to use, and that Apple believed it was patentable. Otherwise, why ask for permission to use it?

  8. Creative, an offshore company, is taking on Apple, an American company, in an American court over an American patent infringement.

    Good luck with that, Creative.

    You will be Blackberried. You cannot win in an American court against an American company no matter who is in the right.

    Go Apple.

  9. The BIG problem is that Creative can prove that Apple tried to license their patent before they introduced the iPod, and if you can act like that is NOT a bullet in the head, then you are lying to yourself AND your readers.

    How could Apple have tried to license the technology when the patent was still pending? Something smells fishy in this bowl.

  10. Tank, very excellent point. Creative’s so-called patent was only granted some months ago, yet Creative is claiming that Apple tried to license a non-patent more than 4 years ago.

    This is truly astounding if you think about it. Talk about revisionist history – Creative actually seems to believe that a patent granted only a few months ago is retroactive to the beginning of time!

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