Apple Admits: Creative Labs Invented Music Player’s Interface

Apple and Creative Technology Settle Legal Dispute

by Anton Shilov
08/25/2006 | 04:18 AM

Apple Computer, the maker of personal computers and iPod digital media player, and Creative Technology, a maker of audio hardware and music players, have settled legal dispute over the music players interface. Additionally, the companies said that Creative Labs will make accessories for iPod music players.


Earlier this year Creative said that the company’s engineers invented the portable digital music player interface in the company’s Scotts Valley, California facility in order to “address the challenges of convenient organization and access of songs on high-capacity portable digital media players”. Creative implemented its now-patented interface on its Nomad Jukebox player, which was announced and presented as a functioning prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2000. The user interface has since been implemented in a variety of Creative players, the most recent being the Zen Vision:M. The company sued Apple Computer accusing the latter in infringing its so-called Zen patent by Apple iPod’s music player interface.

Apple will pay Creative $100 million for a paid-up license to use Creative’s recently awarded patent in all Apple products. Apple can recoup a portion of its payment if Creative is successful in licensing this patent to others, the company indicated.

“Creative is very fortunate to have been granted this early patent,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive. “This settlement resolves all of our differences with Creative, including the five lawsuits currently pending between the companies, and removes the uncertainty and distraction of prolonged litigation”.

In addition, the companies announced that Creative has joined Apple’s “Made for iPod” program and will be announcing their own iPod accessory products later this year.

 “We’re very pleased to have reached an amicable settlement with Apple and to have opened up significant new opportunities for Creative,” said Sim Wong Hoo, chairman and CEO of Creative.  “Apple has built a huge ecosystem for its iPod and with our upcoming participation in the Made for iPod program we are very excited about this new market opportunity for our speaker systems, our just-introduced line of earphones and headphones, and our future family of X-Fi audio enhancement products. We expect that the one-time licensing payment of $100 million will contribute approximately $.85 of earnings per share to our current quarter, ending September 30, 2006.”