Apple has been slapped with a lawsuit over iTunes

Contois Music Technology last week asked a Federal Court to stop the iPod maker from distributing its iTunes jukebox software and is seeking damages over an alleged patent violation by the iTunes software.

The suit, filed on June 13th in Vermont District Court, alleges that Apple's iTunes software design infringes on Contois' six-year old design patent (US Patent No. 5,864,868) entitled "Computer Control System and User Interface for Media Playing Devices."
Source: Apple Insider

The mock-up that Apple Insider posted is very similar to what iTunes looks like. It seems like a genuine case of patent infringement. I cannot remember, nor can I find screenshots of SoundJam MP - the predecessor to iTunes - to see if it had a three column layout for displaying genre -> artist -> album.

But is iTune's genre -> artist -> album different enough then Contois's genre -> composer -> artist?

How many times have software companies stolen User Interface elements from each other?

I don't know what the history of these types of software patent cases is like, but I doubt many ask for a trial by jury. I bet, if anything happens, that Apple will give this company a small percentage of their asking price, and they will go away.

These types of patents really piss me off. It is one thing to draw something on a cocktail napkin and another thing entirely to make it function, elegantly in Apple's case.

I wish to tell I patented the "Home" button and navigational button bar for web pages. Maybe today I would be independently wealthy. Or I would just be blowing a lot of steam.

I just don't understand these types of patents.

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