TG Daily Top-10: Tech lawsuits of 2006

6 - If you can't beat them, sue them - Creative sues Apple

A few years ago, Creative sold decent MP3 players like the Nomad and Nomad Zen, but the Apple's iPod swept up the market with its simple click-wheel and the easy iTunes music store. Fully defeated on the MP3 front, Creative sued Apple for violating its Zen patent which describes a system of hierarchically organizing music. Hmmm... sorta an obvious patent because how else would you organize music. By the singer's middle name?

Creative wanted an injunction to stop all further iPod sales, but Apple hit back with its own lawsuit claiming that Creative violated four of Apple's patents. A few months later, Apple settled out of court for $100 million and part-interest in the Zen patent.

I admit that I owned two Creative Nomads long before Apple sold their first iPod. In addition to playing music, they had excellent features like voice recording and an FM Tuner, something which the iPod to this day still doesn't have. But the Zen had clunky software and it was a pain to transfer songs to the unit. Apple capitalized on this weakness with their iPod and iTunes combo and captured the majority of the MP3 market in a few years.

This lawsuit made the list not only because it involved a former tech titan that is struggling, but because it illustrates our sometimes very questionable. Creative's Zen patent outlines organizing music by album, artist and tracks, something any company and six-year-old child could have thought up. In this case, patenting the obvious gave Creative a $100 million Dollar win.

Article coverage:
Creative sues Apple over iPod interface

5 - Man sues for iPod hearing loss

The sheer audacity of the following lawsuit warrants the number five position. John Kiel Patterson of Louisiana filed a class action lawsuit against Apple claiming the iPod could cause hearing loss. Patterson claims that the ear buds do not effectively block out ambient sound and sit too close to the ear canal. In addition, he is suing to add warning labels and a 100 decibel hardware limiter for all future iPods.

Of course an iPod will kill your hearing if you have it at full blast. How about taking some personal responsibility in the matter and listening at a comfortable level? Maybe Patterson and his lawyers rattled the common sense out of their heads by standing near Boeing 747 engines before filing the suit.

It helps to look at the law firm that is representing the case. Patterson is being represented by the Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, LLP law firm (that's a lot of names), which is the same firm that sued Apple for the scratched iPod nano cases. Despite the stupidity of this suit, we think Apple will probably settle out of court.

Article coverage:
Lawsuit claims iPod can cause hearing loss