Apple sued in 'exceptional' case of multi-touch infringement

Elan Microelectronics, a Taiwanese integrated circuit design firm, has sued Apple in the Northern District of California for infringement on two of its US touchscreen patents.

Observers can file this one under "should have seen it coming."

In January, when Apple obtained a patent for heuristic-based multi-touch recognition, Elan issued a press release to its investors saying that the patent would not affect the company in any way: "Apple Computer to date has 949 approved patents which fall far short of the two at the same time."

"The two" to which Elan referred in that passage are the two patents that are the subject of its lawsuit, meaning that Elan's press release in January was in effect an affirmation that a lawsuit could still happen.

Elan submits that the trackpad on all of Apple's iBooks, Powerbooks and Macbooks violate its patent (#5,825,352), "Multiple finger contact sensing method for emulating mouse buttons and mouse operations on a touch sensor pad," and likewise, so do the iPhone and iPod Touch.

"Each of these devices includes a touch-sensitive input device capable of detecting the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers or other capacitive objects using structure and methods claimed in the '352 patent," the complaint read.

Further, Elan claims that the iPhone and iPod Touch also violate its (#7,024,353) patent for "Capacitive touchpad integrated with key and handwriting functions."

Not only does Elan seek an injunction on the products and damages, but since the company believes it is "an exceptional case," it also demands that Apple pay Elan's court costs, expenses and attorney fees incurred in the suit.

...Exceptional, eh?

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