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Elan previously sued Synaptics over the same patent issue and won

Apple is the target of patent infringement suits more often than it would like and it has been sued by a Taiwan firm called Elan Microelectronics. Elan filed suit against Apple for allegedly infringing on two Elan patents that pertain to touch screens.

The New York Times reports that the suit was filed late Tuesday afternoon according to an Elan spokesman named Dennis Liu. Liu told the NYT, "We couldn't find a common viewpoint with Apple, so we decided we had to take action,” he said, adding that the companies had been in licensing talks for about two years."

Products allegedly infringing on Elan patents produced by Apple include the MacBook, iPhone, and iPod touch with Elan specifically stating that the products infringe on to multi-touch patents it holds. Exactly what Elan hopes to gain from the suit isn't unknown; the court filings don’t specify if the company wants monetary damages or injunctive relief.

What is known is that the three products that allegedly infringe on the patents held by Elan are responsible for a large portion of Apple's Q4 earnings of $1.61 billion reports the NYT. During Q4 Apple moved 4.4 million iPhones. Apple would not comment on the suit.

Elan is emboldened by the fact that it recently won a preliminary injunction in a patent dispute with Synaptics in a dispute over one of the same patents in the Apple suit. The case against Synaptics settled out of court when the two firms agreed to a licensing deal with unspecified terms.

Analyst Jessica Chang from Credit Suisse told the NYT, "From their previous victory in the case with Synaptics, I think they [Elan] should be quite confident. Elan believes they have a unique edge with this patent, and they want to send a signal to the market."

This likely isn't the last touch screen patent suit that will be seen -- touch screens are becoming increasingly common all sorts of device types.

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By aftlizard on 4/8/2009 12:21:57 PM , Rating: 2
I think Palm will be watching this fight especially close.

RE: Interesting
By xKeGSx on 4/8/2009 2:25:59 PM , Rating: 2
I would imagine RIM and Microsoft with Windows 7 as well. Does this mean that all the companies Apple was going for with regards to their touch technology are in effect free from the accusations?

RE: Interesting
By SoCalBoomer on 4/8/2009 2:37:36 PM , Rating: 5
No - it likely means that others are actually working for licensing agreements with original patent holders while Apple goes ahead and does things (like make an iPhone when someone else already has that trademark) and tries to negotiate licensing agreements by dictating terms.

Apple has always played the bully. An example - academic licensing. Nearly everyone negotiates a multi-year license but will pro-rate if you have to add a client. MS is extremely flexible with this - 3 year contract, but you can add FTE as you need. Easy. Wolfram, Maplesoft, SPSS, etc. are all flexible in this way. No big - you hire a couple of faculty and need a couple more seats - here's the pro-rated fee.

Apple? No pro-rating. You buy a NEW 3 year license (that is now out of sync with all other contracts) at a NEW fee structure (again, out of sync) so now for all Macs, we have scrambled coverage. This is not just us - this is the way they work and they will NOT negotiate on it.

They dictate terms and I would strongly suspect that is the issue here as well. The patent owners said they were negotiating with Apple for a while, but Apple would not act so the patent owners are now taking their own action.

Sounds typical to me.

RE: Interesting
By omnicronx on 4/8/2009 2:48:33 PM , Rating: 3
Microsoft has been working on multi-touch screens for a while, (since 2001 if I remember) they will have a case of prior art against many other companies in the field (including Apple). I don't even think Apple would have a case against them with their gestures patent.

Say it's not so
By taber on 4/9/2009 12:19:37 AM , Rating: 3
What? Apple isn't the sole inventor of the touch screen? How about the mouse? Or the smart phone? And here I thought everything Apple ever released was some fresh new invention. My world is shattered.

Android G1
By foohawt on 4/8/2009 2:23:28 PM , Rating: 2
I believe that Google disabled the Multi-touch feature for its G1 and future devices because Apple threatened to sue over it, or they couldn't come to an agreement to use it. Now it looks like someone else holds the rights to the technology, I wonder how this will affect google's decision

Here here!
By sprockkets on 4/8/2009 3:47:43 PM , Rating: 1
Elan, if Apple makes the touch pad, sue them. If they make a certain method of touch, then sue them.

But, I doubt Apple is in the business of making touchpads.

It's like the BS where (for example) we won't sue ogg/vorbis or the xiph foundation for patent infringement, we'll just sue the people who use it because they make millions.

By msheredy on 4/8/09, Rating: -1
RE: Hmmm
By omnicronx on 4/8/2009 11:58:03 AM , Rating: 5
Do a little research before you make such frivolous claims. Elan actually makes touchscreens, this is not patent trolling.

Unlike some of the previous lawsuits that have been filled against Apple within the last few months, Elan seems to have a case here.

RE: Hmmm
By mondo1234 on 4/8/2009 1:35:12 PM , Rating: 3
Something is not right with the article. I think either the article is wrong or the title is misleading. I dont think that Elan is suing over touch screens, since (and correct me if I am wrong) the macbook doesn't have a touch screen. It does have a multi-touch pad. So they must be suing over multi-touch technology.

RE: Hmmm
By omnicronx on 4/8/2009 2:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
They are probably suing over both (nobody knows for sure they have not released this information to the public). I saw the NYtime article before I saw it in DT, and it says 'Touch Screen Rights'. My guess is that one of the patents in question are for the multitouch screens,and for multitouch pads. Elan definitely makes multitouch screens that predate anything Apple has to offer. In fact they are considered one of the leaders in the sector.

RE: Hmmm
By msheredy on 4/8/09, Rating: -1
RE: Hmmm
By omnicronx on 4/8/2009 7:24:13 PM , Rating: 5
You know you make yourself out to be a moron when you don't check the facts. They were in negotiations with Apple for 2 years before they filled this suit, i.e they didn't wait for Apple to succeed, as the iPhone had not been released yet.

RE: Hmmm
By DEVGRU on 4/8/2009 12:12:39 PM , Rating: 4
Yes, buy a clue - or, if you're like Apple - you can just steal one.

Everyone knows beyond the initial garage-building days of Steve and Woz, Apple is built on stealing idea's from other companies.

I don't think Apple would be where it is today if Xerox decided not to give someone a simple tour and demo back in the day. :P

RE: Hmmm
By omnicronx on 4/8/09, Rating: -1
RE: Hmmm
By Mortando on 4/8/2009 1:21:52 PM , Rating: 2
Seems like you may have watched Pirates of Silicon Valley a few too many times.

Either that or this particular discussion was about Apple and not Apple and Microsoft.

RE: Hmmm
By omnicronx on 4/8/2009 1:45:02 PM , Rating: 1
If you didnt get my point, it was that GUI based Operating Systems as we know them today would not be the same without Xerox PARC. Apple didn't steal anything, it was an exchange of ideas for stock.

The way it played out in Pirates of Silicon Valley is far from the truth.

By chick0n on 4/8/09, Rating: -1
By Whaaambulance on 4/8/2009 12:27:59 PM , Rating: 2
You just have to love these illiterate morons that seem to pop up from time to time on here.

By stromgald30 on 4/8/2009 1:47:56 PM , Rating: 5
While I agree with some of your sentiments, your ignorant choice of words still makes you the weakest link. Please, go away.

By DigitalFreak on 4/8/2009 3:43:25 PM , Rating: 1
I hope Apple LOSE. They have been coping other people's ideas for AGES and claim it as their own. ROFL Die Apple u piece of crap.

Me hop Apple loose to. Yoo shud not cop some other idea. ROLF Where yoo liv chick0n? Me com sea yoo and we go Apple and say them yoo suck Apple!

Me got go now. Bye!

Who is stealing from who?
By tlampen on 4/8/09, Rating: -1
RE: Who is stealing from who?
By Whaaambulance on 4/8/2009 12:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
Do you think there might come a time when there cannot possibly be any 'new' ideas? And that possibly all ideas are derived from other ideas? hmmmm....

RE: Who is stealing from who?
By stirfry213 on 4/8/2009 4:53:00 PM , Rating: 2
hmmmm.... You sound like the US Patent Office at the turn of the 19th century.

A time when there will be no more new ideas? For the sake of humanity, I hope not.

Grammer Error
By yomamafor1 on 4/8/09, Rating: -1
RE: Grammer Error
By bldckstark on 4/8/2009 12:42:45 PM , Rating: 5
That would be nice, but the huge bandwidth charges to Dailytech would probably exceed their operating income.

RE: Grammer Error
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/8/2009 12:42:50 PM , Rating: 5
Yes, they should certainly put a grammar checker on this site

RE: Grammer Error
By Whaaambulance on 4/8/2009 12:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
LOL! The irony.

RE: Grammer Error
By CrimsonFrost on 4/8/2009 12:52:24 PM , Rating: 2
If irony were strawberries we'd all be eating a whole lotta smoothies right now...

RE: Grammer Error
By inighthawki on 4/8/2009 1:10:34 PM , Rating: 2
I enjoy drinking my smoothies...

RE: Grammer Error
By PhoenixKnight on 4/8/2009 1:19:11 PM , Rating: 2
"...Elan specifically stating that the products infringe on to multi-touch patents it holds."

RE: Grammer Error
By MDme on 4/9/2009 1:12:18 AM , Rating: 1
"...Elan specifically stating that the products infringe on multi-touch patents it holds."

the "to" is not needed.

RE: Grammer Error
By omnicronx on 4/9/2009 1:41:19 AM , Rating: 2
Yes he probably knows that. He is correcting the article that does the word 'to', which probably why he put it in bold.

RE: Grammer Error
By cherrycoke on 4/11/2009 7:14:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yes he probably knows that. He is correcting the article that does [have/include/use/etc...] the word 'to', which [is] probably why he put it in bold.

This game is fun.

RE: Grammer Error
By MDme on 4/9/2009 1:11:15 AM , Rating: 1
Actually it's GRAMMAR error GRAMMER.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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