RealTime IT News

Microsoft Beats Apple on Patent

The United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected a March 2004 patent application for Apple Computer's graphical interface for the iPod.

As reported by AppleInsider, Apple's patent for a "graphical user interface and methods of use thereof in a multimedia player" was rejected in July. The patent examiner cited an earlier application by Microsoft in the ruling. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

The Microsoft patent in question covers a system of automatically generating playlists from media collections by "seeding" them with both desirable and undesirable items.

On Wednesday, Erik Huggers, a senior director in Microsoft's Windows client division, said his company is serious about moving into Apple's primo territory.

"Come this fall there is going to be a number of devices that get close to competing with Apple's iPod," he told Bloomberg.

Microsoft sees portable music players as a key part of its digital home strategy. The idea is that a Media Center PC will act as the central control for a variety of devices throughout the home, including portable music and video players that let users take their files with them.

Apple has seen a renaissance in its brand and an economic explosion from the various releases of its iPod.

Apple has another iPod patent in the works for its scroll wheel manual navigation tool.

David Kaefer, head of Microsoft's IP licensing group, said Microsoft's general policy is to license its technology to others. The company expanded its intellectual property licensing program in December 2003.

"Microsoft and Apple have previously licensed their respective patent portfolios to one another, and we maintain a good working relationship with Apple," he said in an e-mailed statement.