Apple sued over multi-touch patents

Hot on heels of the iPad launch, a Taiwanese company by the name of Elan Microelectronics is suing Apple through the International Trade Commission (ITC) over a multi-touch patent that they filed back in 2003.

Elan previously sued Apple with the same patent last year in a Northern California U.S. District Court, but is now seeking to completely block the import of Apple's multi-touch products into the US by filing with the ITC. The patent in question, No. 7274353, outlines a method for "the detection of multi-fingers that allows for any subsequent multi-finger applications to be implemented." The lawsuit is reported to encompass a wide variety of Apple products ranging from the iPad to the multi-touch Magic Mouse.

Like Apple is doing in their lawsuit against HTC, Elan is using a loophole in the U.S. patent system so that the outcome of the ITC ruling will take precedence over the outcome of the domestic lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court. Before the HTC case, Apple was previously sued by Nokia through the ITC and Apple subsequently responded by filing their own case

Elan has previously used this same patent against Synaptics in 2008. The outcome of that lawsuit resulted in settlement and a cross-licensing agreement between the two companies

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