Elan Sues Apple, Tries to Block iPad Arrival
Apple is being sued by Taiwan-based Elan Microelectronics, which alleges
that certain Apple products-including the iPhone, iPod Touch, MacBook, Magic
Mouse and upcoming iPad-infringe on an Elan patent for multitouch technology.
"We have taken the step of filing the [U.S. International Trade Commission] complaint as a continuation of our efforts to enforce our patent rights against Apple's ongoing infringement," the company said in a March 30 statement. "A proceeding in the ITC offers a quick and effective way for Elan to enforce its patent."
Elan is requesting that the ITC bar Apple from importing and selling the relevant products. Apple is headquartered in the United States, but its products are assembled in Asia.
More than bit of karmic comeuppance-as Apple has similarly tried to prevent HTC, which it's suing, from importing phones into the United States-the request is particularly noteworthy as, after a near-year's worth of media speculation and consumer waiting, Apple is poised to begin selling its first slate product, the iPad, on April 3. Elan is looking to put a stop to that plan.
"Elan also alleges that the importation of Apple's iPad products, which Apple has indicated will be available to consumers on April 3, violates section 337 [of the Tariff Act of 1930]," the company wrote in its statement.
Elan has sued Apple before, in April 2009, for allegedly infringing on its patents 352 and 353. Patent 352, Elan explains in its statement, "relates to touch-sensitive input devices with the ability to detect the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers."
That outcome of that case appears to be still unresolved, though an additional suit against U.S.-based Synaptics, for touchpad patent violations, resulted in a licensing agreement between the two.
The current filing against Apple indicates a hope on Elan's part that the ITC will note the April 3 date and move quickly, while surely everyone who preordered an iPad, beginning March 12, is crossing their fingers for the opposite.
Apple's lawyers have lately also kept busy by fielding and initiating patent complaints with Finnish phone maker Nokia. The rounds of lawsuits first began in October, with Nokia alleging that Apple is violating 10 Nokia patents, and likely won't conclude for some time.
On March 12, Reuters reported that Apple and Nokia have requested that a trial for their grievances be held in mid-2012.