Thursday, September 01, 2005

Creative strikes, Apple bitten ?

CNN Uncut

Creative Technology, a maker of portable music players, said it was awarded a U.S. patent that applied to Apple Computer's iPod and other rivals. Yes, you are reading right. Creative said it had applied for the patent - dubbed the Zen patent after its Zen player -- on January 5, 2001 and it was awarded the patent on August 9, 2005.

"The Apple iPod was only announced in October 2001, 13 months after we had been shipping the NOMAD jukebox based upon the user interface covered by our Zen patent.", said Sim Wong Hoo, chairman and CEO of Creative. Creative said the patent covers the way music tracks are selected on a device using a hierarchy of 3 or more successful screens.

Creative ranks far behind Apple which holds 70% of the market share for music players that use hard drives to store music. Its shares rose 2.5% to close at $7.94 on Tuesday.

Well, I was holding Apple in high esteem with regards to its creativity and innovation power, be it on the MAC Tiger, or on the ever-famous iPod. But it seems like the iPod craze that Apple managed to steer also owes its credit to Creative (probably). We need to wait and watch for Apple's reaction to this. Nevertheless, the lesson learnt is, when launching a new product or technology, it is not sufficient to keep track of patents that have been awarded. One needs to also keep track to patents that have been submitted an indefinite number of years ago and are still awaiting clearance.

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