August 29, 2006

It was announced late last week that Apple Computer Inc. ("Apple") and Creative Technology Ltd. ("Creative") have settled their patent dispute regarding systems and software for digital music players. Creative obtained U.S. Patent No. 6,928,433 (entitled "Automatic hierarchical categorization of music by metadata", referred to by Creative as the "Zen Patent") on August 9, 2005, and claimed that Apple's iPod product line infringes on the Zen Patent. A total of five lawsuits were eventually filed between the parties, which have all been settled under the terms of Apple paying $100 million to Creative to license Creative's Zen patent. As part of the agreement, Creative will be able to design speaker accessories for the iPod product line as a member of Apple's "Made for iPod" program. According to the Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, "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."

U.S. Patent No. 6,928,433: LINK
Washington Post News Article: LINK
ars technica News Article: LINK
Apple Computer Inc. Press Release: LINK
Creative Technology Ltd. Press Release: LINK
Creative Technology Ltd. Zen Patent Webpage: LINK

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Mark Reichel
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I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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