MANHASSET, N.Y. Digital entertainment product supplier Creative Technology Ltd. filed suit against Apple Computer Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for allegedly infringing a Creative patent governing the user interface in portable media players, including those used in Apple’s iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Mini.
Creative Technology (Scotts Valley, Calif.) has also filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission requesting an investigation of whether Apple (Cupertino, Calif.) has violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, through the importation and sale of iPods and iPod Nanos that infringe the patent. The patent, designated U.S. Patent 6,928,433, is referred to by Creative as the Zen patent.
As relief, Creative is seeking to prohibit Apple from selling and importing iPod and iPod Nano products into the U.S.
Creative competes against Apple in the portable media market, selling its Creative Zen and Nomad Jukebox MP3 players, and was issued the Zen patent on Aug. 9, 2005. The patent is the basis for the interface used in a number of Creative’s MP3 players, such as the Zen Micro
as well as competing players including the iPod.
The suit brings to the fore increasing pressures Creative and other companies face in a portable media market Apple dominates. Market analysts estimate Creative has a 3 percent share of the portable media player market.
In its most recent quarter, Creative posted a $114.3 million loss
, which the company said doubled the $55 million to $65 million shortfall expected in its April guidance.
Creative blamed the huge loss on falling memory prices, though the company expressed hope the trend would also cut into Apple’s ability to undercut its competitors on volume purchase agreements.
Apple did not comment by press time.