Creative Technology Ltd. has been awarded the U.S. Patent 6,928,433, which Creative is referring to as the "Zen Patent." The company says the Zen Patent was awarded for its invention of the user interface for portable media players, including many of the Creative Zen and NOMAD Jukebox MP3 players.
Creative also says this user interface is found in some competing players, such as the Apple iPod and iPod mini.
The Zen Patent covers the user interface that enables users of portable media players to efficiently and intuitively navigate among and select tracks on the players. Creative applied for the Zen Patent on 5 January 2001 and it was awarded on 9 August 2005.
The user interface for portable media players enables selection of at least one track in a portable media player as a user sequentially navigates through a hierarchy using three or more successive screens on the display of the player. One example would be the sequence of screens that could display artists, then albums, and then tracks. When the user selects an artist, the player displays a list of albums for that artist. Selection of one of the listed albums then displays a list of tracks on the album.
"The user interface covered by the Zen Patent was invented by Creative research and development engineers in our Advanced Technology Center in Scotts Valley, California," said Sim Wong Hoo, chairman and CEO of Creative. "The first portable media player based upon the user interface covered in our Zen Patent was our NOMAD Jukebox MP3 player. We shipped the Nomad Jukebox to U.S. retail customers in September of 2000, and by November of 2000, it was already ranked as the top revenue-generating product in the U.S. in the digital audio player category, according to PC Data. By January of 2001, we announced that we had already sold 100,000 NOMAD Jukeboxes. The Apple iPod was only announced in October 2001, 13 months after we had been shipping the NOMAD Jukebox based upon the user interface covered by our Zen Patent."