I was reading The Register's coverage of a talk given by Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo who claims that implementations of side-scrolling hierarchical menus such as those found on Apple's iPods are infringing on his company's recently awarded patent (US patent 6,928,433). Apparently, the first appearance of such a user interface showed up on one of Creative's early generation MP3 players in 2000. The Register story went on to size up the royalty factor that Creative might be able to tap into by citing the expectation that Apple should sell 22 million iPods by the end of the year.
- Referring to the UI on the Mac vs. that of the iPod, is one just a derivation of the other? And what of similar menus on the Web?
- If so, what came first?
- If the Mac OS 'implementation' came first, did it come before or after Creative's MP3 player shipped in 2000?
- If it did, and the answer to the derivative question is yes, could Apple or someone else make a prior art claim that invalidates Creative's patent?
- If it didn't, could Creative claim that Mac's infringe on its patent as well?
- Back to the derivation question, if one isn't just a derivation of the other, what do you think makes them different enough from each other or from similar implementations on the Web, enough to warrant a patent?