Creative, makers of several “also ran” MP3 players, announced today that it was granted a patent to the hierarchical menu system used in the iPod.
This comes just weeks after it was revealed that Microsoft also holds patents to certain iPod interface elements, including the scroll wheel.
An in-depth analysis of all patents issued since the turn of the century now indicates that Apple’s flagship product may be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. All of the features of the iPod are actually covered under patents issued to other companies and individuals.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs was defiant from inside his cocoon.
“Mmmmf ahmmumm mnnny maffunnah,” Jobs said.
“Steve says he believes these patents are unenforceable,” spokesperson Cynthia McLaren translated.
“Maffunahurner marff ahfrizzahuh,” Jobs declared.
“Steve says the iPod represents Apple’s innovation and no one else’s,” McLaren said.
“Mannafur ah iffuff,” Jobs concluded.
“Steve says silk is much itchier than you’d really think.”
Jobs may, indeed, be correct. Many of the patents that cover the features of the iPod are so vague that they are unlikely to hold up in court or were issued to parties that no longer exist.
The Howard Hughes Corporation, for example, was granted a patent in 1951 covering a music-playing device that was, remarkably, finished in white and chrome. It was also the size of an Edsel. The device was never brought to market as Hughes first insisted on cornering the world market for chrome, which he did in 1954. But then he also insisted on cornering the world market for white.