September 8th 2008
By Mike Flaminio
Watching the nearly daily parade of headlines announcing fresh lawsuits against Apple alleging copyright, trademark and / or patent infringement, you might reasonably conclude that Apple has never invented anything.
At least in the case of the iPod, you'd be right.
The UK's Daily Mail reports that in order prove prior art Apple dug up Kane Kramer, a 52-year-old father of three, who patented an iPod-like device way, way back in 1979, eight years after dropping out of high school to pursue a career as an inventor.. [Continue reading]
Source: Daily Mail
Fast forward nearly 30 years and billions in iPod profits later, Mr Kramer was up a ladder painting when he got a call from Apple legal.
"I got the call from a lady with an American accent from Apple saying she was the head of legal affairs and that they wanted to acknowledge the work that I had done," said Kramer. "I must admit that at first I thought it was a wind-up by friends. But we spoke for some time, with me still up this ladder slightly bewildered by it all, and she said Apple would like me to come to California to talk to them."
The long story short of it is that Apple has now acknowledged Kramer as the inventor of the iPod and they used his 1979 patent as evidence of prior art in order to obviate a suit against the company by Burst.com.
Although Kramer was compensated for his time, etc in helping Apple push Burst.com to reach an out-of-court settlement, he won't be collecting royalties on the iPod or a part of the $89-billion in profits Apple's earned from the device any time soon. That is, his patent lapsed back in 1988 because he couldn't raise enough cash to extend it.
Timing is everything...
What's your take?