Apple sued over touchscreen technology

Posted Apr 8, 2009 by Jason Li
The iPod Touch's and iPhone's key selling point is its touchscreen technology, which most agree is currently way superior than most of its competitors. But a Taiwanese company is suing Apple, saying the latter has infringed its patents.
File photo
Elan Microelectronics, a Taiwanese technology company, said on Wednesday that it is suing Apple over its touchscreen software. The company's spokesman said that the suit was filed in a District Court in San Francisco.
Elan claims that Apple has infringed two patents in a range of their products, namely: the iPod Touch, iPhone and the Macbook. These three products were key to Apple's strong earnings of $1.61 billion revealed in January. More than double the number of iPhones, 4.4 million, were sold in 2008's fourth quarter than the year before.
Apple's spokesperson in Hong Kong refused to comment on the lawsuit.
The products' edge is its "multi-touch" technology which allows users to operate the device with more than two fingers on the screen. An increasing number of electronics are featuring this capability.
In 2006, Elan managed to win a preliminary court injunction in a similar patent case against rival Synaptics, who counter-sued. Both were dropped when a cross-licensing deal was inked.
An analyst has mentioned that Elan's success might hint at what its intentions are. Jessica Chang, a Taiwan analyst who covered the Elan-Synaptics case, explains that it might be a strategy to raise the company's profile in the market.
“From their previous victory in the case with Synaptics, I think they should be quite confident,” she said, referring to Elan. “Elan believes they have a unique edge with this patent, and they want to send a signal to the market” and set an example for others.
She added that Elan might propose future collaboration between the two companies.