Taiwanese company files patent suit against Apple

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Potentially bad news for Apple coming from Asia. A Taiwanese company called Elan Microelectronics Corporation (who?) has filed a patent suit against Apple (the news release is in English) a few days ago, saying they own two patents for multi-touch panels currently used in the MacBook, iPhone und iPod Touch.

Just another case of patent trolling? Hard to say. Elan claims Apple uses technology protected via American patents 5,825,352 (“Multiple fingers contact sensing method for emulating mouse buttons and mouse operations on a touch sensor pad”) and 7,274,353 (“Capacitive touchpad integrated with key and handwriting functions”).

The first patent (5,825,352) is especially interesting since a subsidary of Elan sued touchscreen maker Synaptics in March 2006 for infringement of that very patent. It took two and a half years for the companies to come to an agreement. The patent used to be property of Logitech, but Elan acquired Logitech’s touch pad technology division, thereby purchasing the patent with it.

Elan says it tried to negotiate with Apple “over a significant period of time” and now is forced to file the patent suit.

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