Apple Computer and Creative Technology have agreed to settle their legal dispute over music player patents for $100 million, the companies announced Wednesday.
The $100 million, to be paid by Apple, grants Apple a license to a Creative patent for the hierarchical user interface used in that company's Zen music players. After months of hinting that it would be coming after rival music player companies, Creative sued Apple in May, claiming the iPod maker was infringing on its patents.
A week later, Apple countersued, claiming Creative was infringing on Apple patents for user interfaces. As a result of the settlement, all legal disputes between the two companies related to the patent will disappear. Creative had also asked the International Trade Commission to investigate Apple for patent infringement.
The patent covers an interface that lets users navigate through a tree of expanding options, such as selecting an artist, then a particular album by that artist, then a specific song from that album, said Phil O'Shaughnessy, a Creative spokesman. The patent applies to portable media players, which includes devices like the iPod or cell phones that have the ability to play music, he said. Creative filed for the patent on Jan. 5, 2001.
Apple can get back some of the $100 million payment if Creative is able to secure licensing deals with other MP3 player manufacturers, said Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman. He declined to specify exactly how much Apple could recoup or how many deals it would take to trigger the payments. [read more at news.com]
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