iPod-like gadget from 1979 gets new life battling patent trolls

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At first sight, this drawing might be a teenager’s design for The Ultimate iPod, sketched between a map of a dungeon and the answer to “If 0≤x≤π, which equation is a line of symmetry for the graph of y = cos x?” It is, in fact, an illustration of an original 1979 design that inspired the iPod, and Apple was only too happy to admit it.

Why? Because as prior art – a lapsed patent – it was useful fighting patent troll Burst.com. Lapsed patents enter the public domain.

Apple has finally admitted that a British man who left school at 15 is the inventor behind the iPod. Kane Kramer, 52, came up with the technology that drives the digital music player nearly 30 years ago but has still not seen a penny from his invention. … Now documents filed by Apple in a court case show the US firm acknowledges him as the father of the iPod.

The computer giant even flew Mr Kramer to its Californian headquarters to give evidence in its defence during a legal wrangle with another firm, Burst.com, which claimed it held patents to technology in the iPod and deserved a cut of Apple’s £89 billion profits.

Kramer’s design was made in a technological era that allowed for only a few minutes of music to be held on a memory chip. He rightly anticipated long-term improvements in portable data storage, but could not afford to renew the filing.

The Daily Mail implies that the inventor deserves money from Apple for his lapsed patent, demonstrating that it can write a whole story about a subject without understanding the slightest thing about what it means.

Apple admit Briton DID invent iPod, but he’s still not getting any money [Mail]

About Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Email is dead, but you can try your luck at besc...@gmail.com
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6 Responses to iPod-like gadget from 1979 gets new life battling patent trolls

  1. dculberson says:

    Dogmatique, why stop linking to them if they have something interesting that promotes discussion?

  2. Anonymous says:

    re this:
    “… it can write a whole story about a subject without understanding the slightest thing about what it means.”

    That’s a wee bit harsh. The story explicitly says why the inventor doesn’t have a claim. It does try to pull the heartstrings by dwelling on the irony of his financial condition. Overdone, perhaps. But that’s different from not understanding “the slightest thing about what it means.”

  3. Matthew Walton says:

    That’s the Daily Mail all over. The only thing going for that paper is that they use longer sentences than The Sun.

    I wonder, are Apple paying this guy expenses?

  4. dogmatique says:

    Yet again the Daily Mail setting the agenda on Boing Boing…

    STOP LINKING TO THEM!

  5. Rob Beschizza says:

    “I wonder, are Apple paying this guy expenses?”

    He is a consultant for Apple, so he’s certainly getting some money from it.

  6. Phelyan says:

    It’s a shame, but this is how patents work. In other cases we’d be screaming about companies unfairly trying to lengthen the lifespan of copyrights and patents…

    I used to live in Hitchin… it is a strange place.

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