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Apple settles iTunes UI patent spat

Agreement reached out of court

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Apple has settled a lawsuit alleging the company ripped off another firm's design when it coded its iTunes software's user interface. Terms of the deal reached with the plaintiff were not made public, but the case is now closed.

The lawsuit was filed in June 2005 by David Contois of Contois Music and Technology. Contois alleged that iTunes' UI was based on ideas set down in his patent number 5,864,868. The patent was filed in February 1996 and granted in January 1999.

iTunes started life as SoundJam, a music playback application published in 1999 by Casady & Greene. Apple acquired the program and hired its developer in 2000. The following year it relaunched the software as iTunes.

Contois' complaint cited 19 instances where iTunes' UI matches elements described in his patent, including its track search and selection system, and the ability to transfer songs to a portable device.

Apple always maintained its innocence and denied Contois' allegations of wilfull infringement.

Contois and Apple reached an accord after 15 solid hours' of negotiation, the Burlington Free Press reports. ®

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