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May 16, 2006

How is the organization of music meta-data patent-able?

Reading about the latest legal action against Apple where Creative claims that Apple has infringed on a patent for organizing music metadata.

The patent abstract:

Automatic hierarchical categorization of music by metadata
A method, performed by software executing on the processor of a portable music playback device, that automatically files tracks according to hierarchical structure of categories to organize tracks in a logical order. A user interface is utilized to change the hierarchy, view track names, and select tracks for playback or other operations.

It's hard to imagine what good comes from this kind of patent. Maybe patents should be categorized as "enforcable" and "for kudos" where the latter is something stamped on an idea that is too generic to be patented (or whatever reason) but there is no patent. Give the submitters the "for kudos" patent which isn't legally enforcable but is something they can use for marketing future geek talk.

This is such an annoying problem being built here. I'm don't think I'll ever register a patent, it's just not in my nature to build something and want to be able to prevent anyone else from doing the same (I'm a software engineer). However, let's say I do develop something and then a year later my software engineer neighbor (he lives across the street) decides to patent the very idea. Should that patent be granted, I'm in violation and in danger of being sued?

As a novice at patents I'm sure I'm just scratching the surface of all of the problems, issues, and annoyances surrounding patents.

Posted by mike at May 16, 2006 9:57 AM