VOGONS


Reply 80 of 104, by ZanQuance

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
brassicGamer wrote on 2020-02-21, 14:13:
ZanQuance wrote on 2020-02-19, 21:47:

They didn't pay Adlib a cent for "Adlib Compatibility" and yet they forced others to pay them for the Sound Blaster compatibility claim.

It's kind of a moot point considering Ad Lib's inaction at the time. Had developers cited OPL2 as the supported hardware in their literature and setup programs then that would have been established as the standard, and simply purchasing chips from Yamaha would have given manufacturers the right to cite compatibility. Instead, 'AdLib' was the de facto standard. Are we saying Ad Lib Inc should have sued Creative the moment they put 'Ad Lib Compatible' on their boxes? Maybe they should have because, as you say, it was unlicensed used of the name, and AdLib should have received fees for that (along with everyone else that used that implementation of the Yamaha sound.

So we're saying that Ad Lib weren't clever enough with their engineering. Obscuring the identity of the OPL2 wasn't enough and Creative (among others) got around it easily. Are Creative considered devious because they did what Ad Lib should have done from the beginning? Or are they devious because they brought outright Capitalist attitudes to an innate market? Because it sounds like Ad Lib failed in a Capitalist market for being naive. Creative were anything but naive.

Sorry didn't mean to cause confusion with what I posted, I was saying it's pretty hypocritical of Creative to sue others for making a SB compatible claim and expecting other companies to license from them.
They were clearly using "100% Adlib compatibility" to market their card, and should have simply claimed 100% OPL2 compatibility, or do it right and license Adlibs trademark for the use of the name on their products.
It's a hypocritical attitude when they owed the early success of the Sound Blasters to the use of a name people were familiar with, and yet they sued others for making a SB Compatible claim.
If Adlib wanted to protect it's trademark then they should have contacted Creative over this issue and have them remove the Adlib name off their products.
Creative is super quick to defend their IP in court, yet continually have no issues using other companies IP.

That's all I was saying.

Reply 81 of 104, by Cloudschatze

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

What, exactly, should Creative have licensed from Ad Lib?

Concerning use of the name, "Ad Lib" doesn't even appear to have been trademarked, but regardless, "Ad Lib compatible" is a completely factual statement, falling within fair use.

Reply 82 of 104, by ZanQuance

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

It was See here

Cloudschatze wrote on 2020-02-21, 18:15:

"Ad Lib compatible" is a completely factual statement, falling within fair use.

Then wouldn't "SB Compatible" also be a factual statement and fall within fair use for other vendors that were sued over that statement?

Reply 83 of 104, by Cloudschatze

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
ZanQuance wrote on 2020-02-21, 18:39:

It was See here

Right, so that's for the full word mark of "ADLIB PERSONAL COMPUTER MUSIC SYSTEM," including the drawing, which wasn't used.

ZanQuance wrote:

Then wouldn't "SB Compatible" also be a factual statement and fall within fair use for other vendors that were sued over that statement?

Yes, absolutely. However, in the case of Cyrix, Creative sued and won after disproving the statement.

Reply 84 of 104, by ZanQuance

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
Cloudschatze wrote on 2020-02-21, 18:45:

Right, so that's for the full word mark of "ADLIB PERSONAL COMPUTER MUSIC SYSTEM," including the drawing, which wasn't used.

The trademark says "No claim is made to the exclusive right to use "Personal Computer Music System", apart from the mark shown"". The comma is key here, otherwise it would mean the logo and that statement must appear together for the trademark to be valid, instead that comma separates the two into individual items, which Personal Computer Music System "isn't" part of the trademark and free for use by anyone else. They are trademarking the logo only here, not the text.
I know its semantics, but the whole trademark and patent laws are built around small semantics like this.
I was only bringing this up since it didn't appear Adlib was trademarked. Not that Creative used their name+logo, which I don't believe they ever did.

Cloudschatze wrote:
ZanQuance wrote:

Then wouldn't "SB Compatible" also be a factual statement and fall within fair use for other vendors that were sued over that statement?

Yes, absolutely. However, in the case of Cyrix, Creative sued and won after disproving the statement.

Taken from the NTCC pdf I linked to before:

On 7 May 1997, the Court issued a preliminary injunction enjoining further advertisements asserting the "compatible" claim. The […]
Show full quote

On 7 May 1997, the Court issued a preliminary injunction enjoining further advertisements
asserting the "compatible" claim. The court's decision turned on the definition of
"compatible." As applied to hardware devices, the Court found that compatible meant that
"the first product can be used in place of the second product without producing any
difference in performance and that the first product has the same capabilities and functions
as the second product."
MediaGX was not compatible with Sound Blaster because (1)
certain tested software functioned on a computer containing a Sound Blaster sound card
but not on a computer equipped with MediaGX and (2) MediaGX could not support a
specific function, albeit an allegedly out of vogue function, supported by Sound Blaster.

As with Aztec, the incompatible claims again Cyrix most likely involved these four undocumented commands, E2, F0, F4 and F8.
None of which matter to games SB Compatibility and only matter to specific Creative only test diagnostic programs. Thus a really underhanded way of enforcing a Sound Blaster compatible claim on your competitors. I think the Judge was foolish to define compatible to mean 100% drop in replacement based on such a limited scope.

I'm seeing double standards where there really aren't any apparently, the fault is mine. I want to stay factual and not promote a witch hunt.

Reply 85 of 104, by SirNickity

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Creative was definitely hypocritical. Of course they were. They exploited a legal weakness (you can claim compatibility with a product), then made sure they were not, themselves, susceptible to that weakness. It would have been foolish to allow for the same trap that made them successful. Yes, it's under-handed and 100% hypocritical. But, in business, you don't get points for playing fair. You either survive, or you don't.

I see their approach -- that is, "it isn't 100% compatible because you haven't supported these undocumented switches" // "you support these undocumented switches, therefore you're infringing on our intellectual property rights" -- as a check-mate move. It's clever, and effective.

In all honesty, I would feel uneasy about some of the things they did. That is why I have no desire to run a large company. Nor to be a politician. I don't have the stomach for it. But, I can appreciate the position such people are in, and understand there are rules at that level of competition that don't align with the way people ought to act in civilian communities. It's just a consequence of the economic system we've devised. It is what it is. The legal system (also not without fault) is the arbiter, not the golden rule.

Reply 86 of 104, by gdjacobs

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
SirNickity wrote on 2020-02-21, 21:16:

You either survive, or you don't.

Well, ask yourself what Creative accomplished with all their antics. They're now a shadow of what they once were, essentially irrelevant in the non PC multimedia world and losing millions this last fiscal year. As their litigation has not abated with their actual market participation, they're well on their way to full patent troll status and actively serve to hold back the state of technology.

On the other hand, competition, innovation, and cross pollination in the market place has been the fuel behind most technological and economic expansions in history. Had Creative chosen to focus on that instead of the courts, there's a strong chance they would've found themselves on a much healthier trajectory by now.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 87 of 104, by Cloudschatze

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Creative isn't nearly as bad off as you'd think. They're still around and developing new products, despite the near-complete disappearance of their once-dominant market. That's amazing, frankly.

It's my opinion that, even in a world without Creative's "antics," Ad Lib, Media Vision, and Aureal still fail or go bankrupt.

  • Ad Lib put everything on the Gold. Even had it met with its original, 07/1991 release estimate, it would have been a marketplace failure, lacking Sound Blaster compatibility.
  • Media Vision collapsed due to management securities fraud.
  • Aureal had yet to attain profitability, and had experienced some ~$45-million in losses between 1998-1999, of which ~$7-million was attributed to legal expense. Investors had had enough.

Reply 88 of 104, by gdjacobs

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Media Vision wasn't sued by Creative. Aztech was over compatibility R/E while Aureal and ESS were sued over the MIDI sampler patent.

Would Aureal have been able to turn the corner without being hampered by the court case? Would ESS have stayed in the consumer space if they hadn't been forced to withdraw the Maestro 2 chip? We only know being stuck in litigation presented additional cost for the operations of those companies and additional risk for investors and industry partners.

I'm not claiming Creative is responsible for the fall of man. There's no question that Creative's aggressive legal tactics had a chilling effect on competition in the market with unfortunate consequences for consumers. For that I do blame them.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 89 of 104, by Cloudschatze

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

I'm not sure why it isn't mentioned in the NTCC document, but Media Vision was sued by Creative, for the same copyright-infringement claim leveled against Aztech. They settled, with Media Vision entering a licensing agreement. Rich Heimlich gives a pretty insightful account of this, wherein the courts were about to rule against Creative, but Media Vision jumped the gun and agreed to the settlement before the decision.

Creative absolutely created a barrier-of-entry into the soundcard market, but other than the false advertising lawsuits, I guess I don't feel that their legal actions were beyond-the-pale.

Reply 90 of 104, by gdjacobs

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Sorry about missing the Media Vision filing. Not sure how I missed it.

Cloudschatze wrote on 2020-02-22, 03:10:

other than the false advertising lawsuits, I guess I don't feel that their legal actions were beyond-the-pale.

They were extremely persistent and certainly tried venue shopping against Aztech. Fortunately their suit in California was dismissed as Singapore was determined to be a competent jurisdiction and the US court deferred.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 91 of 104, by ZanQuance

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

That was an interesting read:
The real reason Creative sued Aureal for false advertising

“We're already in a patent case with these guys,” said John Danforth, vice-president and general counsel for Creative Labs, in a […]
Show full quote

“We're already in a patent case with these guys,” said John Danforth, vice-president and general counsel for Creative Labs, in an interview. “My concern is that during the time spent in the patent case, there's been an escalation in the level of rhetoric, especially on the Internet.”

According to Danforth, Aureal employees posted a series of misstatements concerning Creative's Sound Blaster cards and their Environmental Audio Extensions, related software technology used for 3D sound. Creative Labs is the U.S. subsidiary of Creative Technology Ltd., a Singapore-based PC multimedia hardware company.

Specifically, Danforth cited a chart comparing features of audio chips created by Aureal and Creative, which had been allegedly authored by Aureal employees. The chart, which had been posted to several Internet web sites for PC 3D sound enthusiasts, included several erroneous statements, Danforth said. Furthermore, Danforth said that two Aureal employees acting as company representatives posted misleading and erroneous statements in articles posted to the comp.sys.ibm.pc.soundcard.advocacy Usenet bulletin board on the Internet.

Danforth said the chart contained technical inaccuracies about documented features found in both chips, such as the number of DMA channels or whether the cards included head-related transfer function operations to create 3D sounds. “These are black and white issues,” he said. “It's not like they were comparing the quality of the sound, or whether it sounds like it's coming from behind you.”

Slow *clap* *clap* *clap*
It was actually THIS comparison Skip McIlvaine was mailing around, not that chart matrix we thought it was which was printed later on.

That usenet is a golden read, especially all the arguments between the Q-Sound, Creative, and Aureal guys going at it. Here are two I bookmarked since they are long to read:
3D Sound is a Joke!
Skip from Aureal twists words, lies and Aureal steals ideas.
Main Topic page keep scrolling down till 97/98 for all the good posts.

The timeline, the news reviews, everything posted there really places things into perspective.
Creative felt threatened by Aureal, and needed to do everything they could, even grasping at straws, to shut them down.

What I learned today:

  • Creative sold all their cards at a high price because when people pay more, they justify their expense and are unlikely to switch to a competitors, a subliminal marketing tactic.
  • The Live! on release was met with many issues and only supported 8 3D audio channels at launch, later upgraded to 32. Many posters felt cheated, others couldn't praise the card enough.
  • Q-Sound thought everyone needed to get along and open source their APIs so everyone could play fair and developer and customers would win.
  • Creative said "hey were good guys" and opened EAX 1 and 2, Chris Owens loved talking about open standards and how great they are.
  • Aureal said A3D 1.0 is open spec and free for anyone to implement, but all your HRTF is subpar and it sounds best on our cards. A3D 2.0 was not yet released.
  • David Gasior worked for Turtle Beach and was a pretty impartial poster, supporting everyone's products.
  • Skip McIlvaine loved "Setting the record straight" and definitely had the Aureal does it best attitude, as expected of any company employee.

Ahh the good ol' days 😉

Last edited by ZanQuance on 2020-02-23, 06:00. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 92 of 104, by awgamer

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Chris Owens from Creative said: "Creative didn't take people to court for being compatible, just for
being 100% compatible"

While the official record from the NTCC pdf said: "On 7 May 1997, the Court issued a preliminary injunction enjoining further advertisements
asserting the "compatible" claim. The court's decision turned on the definition of
"compatible." As applied to hardware devices, the Court found that compatible meant that
"the first product can be used in place of the second product without producing any
difference in performance and that the first product has the same capabilities and functions
as the second product." MediaGX was not compatible with Sound Blaster because (1)
certain tested software functioned on a computer containing a Sound Blaster sound card
but not on a computer equipped with MediaGX and (2) MediaGX could not support a
specific function, albeit an allegedly out of vogue function, supported by Sound Blaster."

aka defining the term compatible to only mean 100% thus Chris pulling a fast one with his statement.

Reply 93 of 104, by NewRisingSun

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Speaking of lawsuits about copyright infringement: Two of the demo songs that came with various Sound Blaster products were stolen from AdLib:

  • FAIRY.CMF, used for the "The Elements" demo that came with the Sound Blaster Pro, originally appeared on the "Adlib Song Album #1: Children's Corner" as FAIRY.ROL.
  • THECLOUD.CMF, used for the "Sound Blaster 16 Features" demo that came with the Sound Blaster 16, originally appeared on the "Adlib Song Album #7: New Age Echoes" as THECLOUD.ROL.

Both files badly converted from the Adlib Visual Composer format (.ROL) to the "Creative Music File" (.CMF) format by Creative's buggy ROL2CMF.EXE utility, which introduces many errors into the resulting .CMF file.

While they are just demo songs, the arrangement of the first file and the entire song of the second file surely were covered by copyright, and would have given AdLib a copyright infringement case against Creative. Just a small observation, but one that demonstrates how little WH Sim cared about the property of others.

ZanQuance wrote:

As with Aztec, the incompatible claims again Cyrix most likely involved these four undocumented commands, E2, F0, F4 and F8.
None of which matter to games SB Compatibility and only matter to specific Creative only test diagnostic programs.

They matter to games that use Creative's CT-VOICE.DRV for PCM audio playback. Specifically command E2.

Reply 94 of 104, by appiah4

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Creative were no saints but they were no more the devil compared to any other tech companies in the 90s, it was a wild west of dog eat dog competition. Bill Gates is one of the people I respect the most today, but he was a completely different man 30 years ago.

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 95 of 104, by SirNickity

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Yeah. Many of the sound card companies out there at the time were clearly doomed from the start.

Ad Lib was in way over their heads and just had a wild stroke of luck gaining the notoriety they had for the original Ad Lib card. EVERYone cloned that card's functionality, not just Creative. You really can't blame Creative for stealing thunder from Ad Lib when nearly every single audio card that came out afterward had OPL2 (or later dual OPL2, or OPL3, or some clone thereof) support. And all at the same address. hmmm You could argue that Creative did it first, and so set the precedent, and sure that's fair. But then it was a free-for-all. Aztech, MV, ESS, Crystal, WSS, scads of generic clones... even Yamaha themselves.

The Gold, of course, was too little too late. While they had the upper hand with brand recognition for a while, they squandered their lead. "But Creative's meddling!!" If Ad Lib hadn't taken so long trying to build the perfect successor, and been a little more tight-lipped about what they were doing, they could've avoided that. Like I said, they were in over their heads. Music geeks trying to be tech geeks, barely capable of being businessmen. I feel for them, but life is not fair.

MV's business issues are well known. They also got to the PAS 16 and stopped. (E.g., where's the wavetable upgrade?) They branched out a little bit, but consider the Reno CD-ROM drive. Total junk. (I wanted it so bad back then. Recently got one. So glad I didn't spend the money back then. I would have been sorely disappointed.)

Turtle Beach had some interesting tech, but no marketing prowess. They managed to survive, amazingly -- probably 95% by word-of-mouth, but also because the things they really excelled at were aimed at a tier above the average consumer.

GUS made a strong entrance, but it was kind of niche tech, and they all but ignored the consumer utility of their product. (It either needed to be compatible with the standard, or to be the standard. They were neither.)

Most of these guys just failed to appreciate that 1) developers are lazy and on tight deadlines and budgets; 2) consumers just want the thing to work with a minimum of fuss; 3) nobody cares if your product is "superior" if it isn't natively supported in Doom. The knock-off products had nothing going for them but price, and languished in obscurity. They were found in "value" builds from OEMs, and on the bottom shelf at the computer store. If you were 100% price-focused, you might buy their card, but you would never really know what to expect.

ZanQuance wrote on 2020-02-22, 19:16:

What I learned today:
Creative sold all their cards at a high price because when people pay more, they justify their expense and are unlikely to switch to a competitors, a subliminal marketing tactic.

There's some truth to that, but also... any company that could afford to sell their product at $100, but can sell their product for $200 will do the latter, because 1) why would you not? it's free money! 2) sooner or later, the gravy train will stop, so better save for that rainy day; 3) you now have room for discounts when you need a quick sales boost, or to buy time when a competitor surprised you; 3) to keep the company going, you need to start working on the next big thing, and that +$100 is your seed money.

People think of mark-up as money lost, but it isn't that straight-forward. Only if the money is squandered is that really the case. Look at Apple. They charge a premium, and then they have the capital to do crazy things like strong-arm the music industry into dropping DRM because they're such a huge music distribution channel that you can't afford to ignore them. You don't get in to that kind of position by racing for the bottom.

I.e., that premium price for an average product is the reason they still exist today.

Reply 97 of 104, by The Serpent Rider

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I think you can "blame" Yamaha for that. It was more profitable for them to sell those chips to Creative. Once again, welcome to capitalism. Enjoy your stay.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 98 of 104, by 640K!enough

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
The Serpent Rider wrote on 2020-02-26, 03:05:

I think you can "blame" Yamaha for that. It was more profitable for them to sell those chips to Creative. Once again, welcome to capitalism. Enjoy your stay.

The only problem with that suggestion is that Ad Lib was one of the only major sound card manufacturers that was using that chip at the time. The chip in question, as far as I'm aware, was the YMZ263 (also known as MMA) that was part of the Yamaha Magic chipset. From what I've been able to gather, Ad Lib and Yamaha collaborated on the specification of that chipset. The other main component of the chipset was the YMF262 (or OPL3) that we know so well. It was no co-incidence that, even with the delays, the Gold was one of the first cards with the YMF262 on it, and I had been reading articles about pre-production review units and its superior sound long before the second-generation Sound Blaster Pro hit the shelves, much less the (considerably more expensive) Sound Blaster 16 ASP.

Knowing what we know about the industry now, I strongly suspect that Yamaha stood to gain more from helping to get the Gold out on time than complying with Mr. Sim. Had the Gold Sound Standard taken hold, it could well have meant more Yamaha chips on almost every major sound card. I've asked this before: what could Creative have done if Yamaha told them to get lost? At the time, the patents for FM synthesis would have kept Creative from trying the CQM approach for a few more years. Not even Creative could have afforded to have a card that was neither Ad Lib- nor Sound Blaster-compatible (no register-compatible FM synth).

Really, what did Yamaha gain from it? Within two years or so, with the patents due to expire, Creative got E-Mu to develop CQM. Once that was "good enough", no subsequent Creative cards had any Yamaha ICs on them.

Reply 99 of 104, by canthearu

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Really, what killed Adlib was that they were 3 years late to the market for PCM sound, against an existing standard that was already being used and developed for.

I was going to look at sound blaster and Adlib pricing at the time, but I found the following more fascinating for being a look into the past (1993) rather then specifically looking at adlib pricing.

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=LIyy_Cto … 20price&f=false

Availability is probably the biggest thing that killed adlib gold. Looking in the magazine, dozens of retailers had the SB PRO and SB 16 on the shelves. Maybe only one or two had the Adlib Gold in comparison.