Multi-touch Tech Firm Seeks iPad Sales Injunction

Taiwan-based Elan Microelectronics just filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Apple is infringing on its patents and violating the Tariff Act, and is seeking a ban on imports of the iPad as well as an order for Apple to stop selling the mobile device along with iPhones, iPods and Macs.

The move was taken as a "continuation of our efforts to enforce our patent rights against Apple's ongoing infringement," the company said in a statement shared with EnterpriseMobileToday.com.

"The complaint alleges that Apple is violating Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, by importing its iPhone, iPod Touch, MacBook and Magic Mouse products into the United States, that infringe Elan's U.S. Patent No. 5,825,352. (the "352 patent"). 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. Elan is requesting that the ITC issue a permanent exclusion order barring the importation of those products into the United States, as well as a cease and desist order barring Apple from selling any of these products in the United States that it has already imported," the company said in a statement.

The ITC will decide whether it will institute an investigation within 30 days, according to ELan. If instituted, the ITC will set a target date by which it will complete the investigation and issue its final determination "as to infringement and remedial orders."

This is not the first legal complaint Elan, which makes multi-touch technology, has filed against Apple.

Last April, Elan filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Northern California claiming Apple infringes on two of its multi-touch patents. In June, it was reported that Apple was granted an extension to respond to the suit.

In that filing, Elan took issue with its patent 352, which relates to touch-sensitive input devices with the ability to detect the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers. "The 352 patent is a fundamental patent to the detection of multi-fingers that allows for any subsequent multi-finger applications to be implemented," the company said in its statement.

Some patent lawyers, meanwhile, have speculated that Elan is seeking a licensing agreement with Apple for the multi-touch technology, citing its success in 2008 when it settled a suit against Synaptics.

"In late 2008, Elan settled the lawsuit it brought against Synpatics, Inc. over infringement of the 352 patent, resulting in a license agreement between the companies. That settlement was reached after the district court in California found that certain Synaptics touchpads included multi-finger detection methods that infringed the 352 patent. The court also issued a preliminary injunction against Synaptics, Inc. In reaching that decision, the court affirmed the validity of the 352 patent," according to Elan's statement.

By press time, Apple had not responded to requests seeking comment.


iPad, Apple, patent violation, patent, mobile device