This was a bit of a surprise to me, but I guess that's how patents go, sometimes...
BBC said:"The first portable media player based upon the user interface covered in our Zen Patent was our Nomad Jukebox MP3 player," said Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo.
"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."
In its press release, Creative said Apple had filed for a patent for a user interface in a multimedia player in late 2002, but its application had been recently rejected.
Creative is looking to take a slice out of Apple with its new products. It recently introduced a new version of its Zen model which has a colour screen and can play video.
"We consider it a dead certainty that Creative will go after Apple for royalties or some other type of compensation for what Creative will assert is infringement of its patents, currently and in the past," analyst Phil Leigh of Inside Digital told the Reuters news agency.
But Mr Leigh added that Creative was likely to have a hard time to get anything out of Apple as the appilicability of patents was often difficult to prove.
http://www.macworld.co.uk/news/index.cfm?home&NewsID=12490MacUser UK said:'Before this invention, there was no intuitive and efficient way to deal with the large number of tracks that could be stored on a high-capacity player, explained Creative chairman and CEO Sim Wong Hoo.
However it is not clear whether the company will be able to claim a share of Apple's substantial iPod earnings or even wether the patent will stand up to legal examination. According to patent lawyer Randy Gard patent rejections are common while Apple could still file its own patent.
Still, there must be a few red faces among Apple's legal team, as this is the second time this month that one of its rivals has secured an iPod-related patent. Microsoft - in the guise of employee John Platt - having been awarded a patent for a menu-based media player. Apple is appealing that patent, partly on the grounds that Microsoft has patented something that Apple had already invented.
MacWorld UK said:Creative Technology is "evaluating all alternatives" now it has won its patent for digital-music user interfaces.
The patent, issued by the US Patent & Trademark Office, covers the hierarchical display of music information on digital-music players that Creative claims can be found not only on its devices but also on Apple's iPod and iPod mini.
The hierarchical menu system employed by the Creative players is immediately familiar to anyone who has handled an iPod or an iPod mini. What's more, said Creative, the interface was first used in a shipping product more than a year before Apple's iPod hit the shelves, and the patent was filed long before Apple filed its own patent for the iPod.