Creative granted U.S. Patent for its MP3 Player User Interface
Creative Labs, maker of a number of MP3 players, was awarded a U.S. Patent that apparently covers the way a user selects tracks from a menu consisting of three levels of hierarchy or more. Creative has not yet stated whether or not they will pursue this matter in the courts, as it could be costly, but said they are evaluating the alternatives. Apple has not released a statement covering this matter as of yet, so Apple’s reaction is as of yet undetermined.
The patent is named the Zen Patent, and was originally applied for subsequent to the release of the NOMAD Jukebox in 2000. Since the Apple iPod was introduced in 2001, Creative claims to have precedence. Interestingly, Apple and Microsoft have applied for similar types of patents on related technology, and both were rejected.
Given the current 70% market saturation of the ubiquitous iPod, there is some concern that there could be far reaching implications stemming from the enforcement of royalties stemming from this patent protection.