Apple has settled a lawsuit filed by a Vermont-based company called Contois Music Technology, which alleged that the iTunes user interface violated a 1996 patent for a "Computer Control System and User Interface for Media Playing Devices." Contois Music Technology claimed that Apple integrated elements from its patent into iTunes, and based its accusation on the fact that Apple employees were present at trade shows in the mid-90s where Contois Music Tech had demonstrated its software. Some of the functionality which the company claims was copied by Apple includes using a menu selection process to select music, the ability to search and sort music based on the genre, artist, and album, and transferring music from a library to a portable music player. As we reported last year when the lawsuit was filed, several other software packages capable of similar functionality existed around the same time as when Contois Music Technology was showing off its patented software (e.g. WinAmp), but as patent-infringement cases are notoriously expensive to fight, we're not surprised that Apple decided to settle instead. As the exact terms of the settlement were not disclosed (read: how much Apple had to cough up), it'll be hard to draw parallels between this and Apple's recent $100 Million settlement with Creative over the menu system for the iPod: unfortunately, that also means we'll have to wait until the next Apple lawsuit to hear more of that oh-so-subtle smack talk from Jobs.

[Via AppleInsider]