For $100M USD, we can all just get along

To conclude what has probably been one of the most asinine lawsuit stories in recent history, long time portable audio rivals Creative Labs and Apple Technology have announced a settlement once and for all.  Creative reports that Apple will pay Creative Labs $100M USD for the license to use technology found in MP3 players that both companies use.

The official press release also claims that if and when Creative successfully licenses the same technology to other companies, Apple will be refunded some of the $100M back since both companies were integral in the propagation of digital audio players.  Perhaps most bizarre, after all this trouble, Creative has also announced it has joined the "Made for iPod" program and will be announcing iPod accessories this year.

Both companies are playing this knock-down drag-out fight with positive spin. Apple's CEO Steve Jobs claims "Creative is very fortunate to have been granted this early patent.  This settlement resolves all of our differences with Creative, including the five lawsuits currently pending between the companies, and removes the uncertainty and distraction of prolonged litigation."

For those not familiar with the back history of this epic debate, it all started a fateful day in May 2006 when Creative Labs initiated a lawsuit against Apple for infringing on interface design common between the Creative Zen and Apple iPod MP3 players.  Apple immediately returned fire claiming Creative infringed on Apple's patents for the same devices, twice.  Singapore-based Creative then returned the volley by getting the International Trade Council (ITC) to launch an investigation into California-based Apple with regard to how the patents were handled. 

The US ITC has not closed the investigation yet, so we may still see one or two interesting addendums to this story.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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