Apple Sued Over Touch-Screen Patents

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Taiwanese company Elan Microelectronics has sued Apple for the unauthorized use of two of Elan’s patents in Apple’s MacBook, iPhone and iPod Touch products.

“We couldn’t find a common viewpoint with Apple, so we decided we had to take action,” Elan spokesman Dennis Liu told the New York Times, adding that the companies had been in licensing talks for about two years.

A statement published on Elan’s website says the patents cover innovations in touch-sensitive input devices incorporated into smartphones and computer touchpads.

“The first patent at issue, U.S. Patent 5,825,352 (“the ‘352 patent”), relates to touch-sensitive input devices with the ability to detect the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers. Multi-finger applications are becoming popular in smartphone and computer applications. The ‘352 patent is a fundamental patent to the detection of multi-fingers that allows for any subsequent multi-finger applications to be implemented. The second patent, U.S. Patent No. 7,274,353 (“the ‘353 patent”), is directed to touchpads capable of switching between keyboard and handwriting input modes.”

Elan said it won a preliminary court injunction against a U.S.-based rival, Synaptics, in a dispute over one of the patents mentioned in the Apple lawsuit, after a suit was filed in 2006 by a unit that was a subsidiary at the time. Synaptics countersued.

Both actions were dismissed last year after the two companies reached a cross-licensing agreement. That result likely emboldened the company to take legal action against Apple, an analyst who follows Elan told the NYT.

Image used with a CC license, courtesy dnorman

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