Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Apple allegedly infringing silly patents

Engadget has news today that Apple is allegedly infringing not one but two patents with it iPods and iTunes software.
The second one I’m mostly going to skip over since I don’t know so much about it, but basically a company in Hong Kong seems to own a patent with something to do with verification for DRM. This quote sums it up well:

“…Apple is getting sued because the tools they’ve been using to protect other people’s intellectual property (namely that of the record industry) supposedly violate some other person’s intellectual property.”

But the first one is just plain silly. A company called Advanced Audio Devices was granted a patent in July 2003 for:

a “music jukebox which is configured for storing a music library therein” that “includes a housing, audio input structure on the housing for receiving audio signals, audio output structure on the housing for outputting audio signals, and a data storage structure in the housing for storing audio signals.”

Right. As I said, this patent was granted a stroke over 18 months ago, by which time almost all portable media players on the market were capable of doing what the patent describes. In fact, many of them had been doing this for quite some time – my first MP3 player – a Samsung Yepp YP-E64 – bought way, way back in summer 2000, had a microphone on the housing, a headphone socket and built-in flash memory. That predates the patent by 3 years, and there were other models older than that. Suffice to say there was a fair bit of prior art that would invalidate that patent.
If someone can find out what the guys over at USPTO are smoking, please let me know so I can get some myself.


  1. It’s widely said that the patent office will grant just about anything and then leave it up to the courts to work out the details if and when they arise. It’s not quite true, but with things like this it’s not surprising you get things like that spreading around…

  2. The USPTO basically say, it’s not who came up with the idea first, it’s who files the patent…

  3. I find the USPTO must be smoking stuff quite often. Because most every time we hear about the USPTO, it is because of something really off the wall stupid – and that happens a lot.