Earlier this year, we reported
how Apple was awarded a patent on some of the multi-touch technology and GUI used on the iPhone. Some of the feeling at the time was that Apple was preparing to use the threat of patent infringement as a way to quash a solid competitor in the Palm Pre. Now, the tables have turned as chip design company Elan Microelectronics of Taiwan has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Fransisco. The suit claims that two of Elan's patents are infringed upon by the MacBook, iPhone and iPod Touch and two years of talks with the Cupertino, California firm to work out a licensing arrangement have failed. The Taiwanese firm has had to fight over these patents in court before, in 2006 against Synaptics who countersued, and eventually both firms worked out a cross-licensing deal after Elan had won a preliminary court injunction. The patents in question involve a "multiple fingers contact sensing method foremulating mouse buttons and mouse operations on a touch sensor pad." With their business starting to drop off with the economy, and with the confidence of seeing a deal worked out with Synaptics, Elan could be using the patent fight as a way to raise their profile in the touch screen market. A spokeswoman for the Taiwanese firm says that the company wants to receive royalties and a licensing agreement that would also cover future offerings from Apple. Jill Tan, a spokeswoman for the American firm, said that Apple would not comment on the lawsuit. When the Pre is launched, everyone had been preparing to watch Cupertino to see what the reaction was going to be about a patent battle. Now, all eyes will have to be looking toward Taiwan.
source: NY Times