Thursday, 09 April 2009 03:35

Elan sues Apple over multitouch patents

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Apple's heading towards court again: this time to defend itself against patent infringement allegations from Taiwanese chip design company Elan Microelectronics.

Multitouch technology has become a central part of the user interface on Apple products recently, whether that's on the screen of an iPhone or a MacBook's touchpad.

And there's persistent speculation that Apple's entry into the netbook market will be a multitouch tablet along the lines of an overgrown oiPod touch.

Apple has talked up its patent coverage for technology used in the iPhone, but now Elan claims the company is infringing two of its patents.

Curiously, Elan stated earlier this year that "there is actually no conflict between the multi-touch technologies used by ELAN and Apple."

Even more curiously, an Elan spokesperson told the New York Times that Apple and Elan have been in licencing talks for about two years.

Elan has had some success in defending its patents. Litigation between Elan and Synaptics was dismissed after the two companies came to a cross-licensing agreement. While that sounds like a draw, Elan claimed the win.

"Regarding the cross-licensed fee, we may see a fruitful operating income in our financial statement," company officials said at the time.

The suit against Apple was filed this week in the US District Court in San Francisco.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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