Apple iPad, iPhone hit with multitouch patent lawsuit

Lawsuit's goal is to prevent the import of any Apple multitouch product into the United States

Apple's patent karma is balancing as one tech company sues to block the iPad and other multi-touch Apple products from the United States.

Elan Microelectronics, based in Taiwan, filed a lawsuit against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday, GigaOM reports. The lawsuit deals with the use of multiple fingers on a touch screen device -- in other words, multitouch -- and looks to prevent the import of any Apple multitouch product into the United States, including the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, MacBook and Magic Mouse.

The lawsuit is similar to one that Elan filed against Apple with the U.S. District Court last year, but in a different venue. In the District Court case, Elan seeks triple damages and a "reasonable royalty," but the ITC's power is limited to injunctions, arguably a more severe penalty than monetary damages. As GigaOM points out, Elan is exploiting a loophole that essentially lets firms sue twice on a single patent. Apple used the same tactics its patent lawsuit against HTC, filing with both the ITC and the U.S. District Court.

Apple has tried to claim ownership of multitouch in the past and was recently granted a major multitouch patent for capacitive displays. The company even trademarked the term "Multi-Touch." In February 2009, Elan issued a press release saying Apple's patents are different because they deal with specific user commands rather than multitouch technology. Obviously, Elan still believes its existing patent, awarded to Logitech in 1998 and since transferred to Elan, is being infringed.

Elan has flexed its muscle with this patent before. In 2006, the company sued Synaptics and won a preliminary court injunction before the rival companies settled on a cross-licensing agreement. Meanwhile, Elan has its own plans for the technology, announcing in January that its 10.1-inch touch screen passed Windows 7 Certification.

As for the million-dollar question of whether Elan's lawsuit will mess with Apple's iPad launch on April 3, I doubt it. The timing of this lawsuit may be a coincidence, coming roughly a year after Elan filed to the U.S. District Court, or it could be a deliberate attempt to score some mid-hype cycle publicity, but the chance of a quick court decision to disrupt a major product launch seems pretty unlikely.

If, however, you're waiting to see if the second-generation iPad better-suits your needs, this case is worth keeping an eye on.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags touch screensAppleapple ipadiPhone

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?