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Microsoft`s Bill Gates could make a killing off of rival Apple Computer`s iPod, The Independent Online reported.
Apple might have to pay Microsoft royalties for every iPod it sells, the Independent said, because Microsoft beat Steve Jobs` company to the patent office and secured a crucial patent on technology used in the iPod.
Apple introduced the iPod in November 2001, but did not file a provisional patent application until July 2002. It filed a full application in October 2002.
The Independent reported Microsoft submitted an application in May 2002 to patent key elements of music players, including song menu software.
The paper said iPods account for three of every four portable music players bought in the United States, and represent almost one-third of Apple`s sales. One analyst told the Independent Apple will sell 25 million iPods this year -- bringing the total sold in the four years it has been on the market to 35 million.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Apple`s application for a patent, ruling that some ideas were similar to those covered in Microsoft`s application.
The bottom line: Apple could have to pay Microsoft a license fee of up to $10 for each iPod.