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Apple could face touch-screen iPhone lawsuit

updated 08:10 pm EST, Mon February 19, 2007

Another iPhone lawsuit?

Apple's much anticipated all-in-one cell phone may be facing more than just an iPhone-brand lawsuit by Cisco. The Cupertino-based iPod-maker may face a patent lawsuit over its forthcoming iPhone from a UK-based company that develops and markets capacitive sensor chips for touch screen applications based on its patented charge-transfer (QT) capacitive sensing technology. Southampton-based touch sensor specialist Quantum Research said that based on current public demonstrations and descriptions, the consumer device appears to use patented Quantum technology in its consumer-oriented iPhone device. Some of that touch technology for human interfaces has already been licensed to other cell phone manufacturers.

"We will be looking very carefully at the iPhone," company representatives warned Apple, according to a report by Electronic Weekly. The company, which supplies chips to Apple, already has one lawsuit proceeding against Apple for patent infringement, and says it's prepared to bring another, if finds Apple's device infringes on its patent.

Earlier this year, Quantum Research filed a lawsuit against Apple over the capacitive touch-sensing technology used in the Cupertino-based company's iPod clickwheels. Quantum says it is in negotiations with Apple over the response to the initial lawsuit on the iPod nano clickwheel. Apple is also being accused of stealing the iPhone concept/idea from Korean manufacturer LG Electronics, after it unveiled its Prada prototype last September.

"The description of the iPhone suggests it uses a rear-surface touch screen, and has proximity sensing which can tell if it is held to the ear. That's a QR capability," Duncan Bryan, licensing director at Quantum Research (QR), told the publication.

The report indicates that if Apple is using charge transfer technology, which QR claims to have patented, in its iPhone, then Apple may be infringing the firm's patent. EW reports that charge transfer capacitive sensing was invented by QR's founder and CEO Hal Philipp and the company has licensed it to Motorola, which uses it in its mobile phone keypads. The company also had other clients who have licensed its patented technology and says it negotiating with several others.

The company claims that Apple is already using charge transfer technology in the wheel control of some of its iPods, which is the focus of the company's previous iPod clickwheel lawsuit. Leading up to the iPhone launch, Apple filed hundreds of patent applications in an effort to protect its intellectual property. The report indicates that Apple has tried, and failed, to patent wheel-based sensors, while manufacturers rapidly integrate capacitive sensing into their products.

There are other techniques for capacitive touch sensing, but that those technologies are not optimal for consumer device exposed to variety of weather conditions, the publication reports. Technologies such as relaxation oscillator technology or current injection can also be used for the same functionality, the report claims, but they inherently unstable across humidity and temperature and are susceptible to EMC.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. FastAMX79

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    patents...

    With so many companies, with so many patents, it's a wonder how any new products come out anymore with out some type of lawsuit attached to them.

    I wonder if we will see the day innovation stops because the parts to make it are 'patented' by someone else.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    give up apple

    No one wants your stupid, unoriginal toy phone. Especially if all your doing is ripping peoples ideas off and then calling it your own.

  1. jarod

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    To: guest

    Get back in your hole ya 2 cent peasant. No one wants your stupid comments esp when you don't have a clue.

  1. gambit23

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    jarod:

    Dude, you know that 'guest' was probably the CEO of Palm or something.

  1. FastAMX79

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    jarod

    guest is a troll. windoze users like to troll mac forums and stir s*** up.

    and they say mac users 'dont have lives' :rolling eyes:

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re:patents

    I wonder if we will see the day innovation stops because the parts to make it are 'patented' by someone else.

    Um, there's lots of products out there whose parts are patented by others. h***, the iPhone itself is probably made up of many patented pieces from other companies (take the CPUs in it, for example). Macs are made mostly from components patented by others.

    Hey, if some british company was coming out with a device that used a 'multi-touch screen', you'd be all over them about stealing ideas and patents and suing their asses off. Just because its Apple is involved doesn't mean they aren't guilty, either intentionally or unintentionally.

  1. dmsimmer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    The real problem

    Intellectual property. Horrible legal concept.

    I know, I know. But look at the money that's being exchanged for these "properties".

    It takes food from the mouths of our young.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Look Deeper

    I'll bet if they look deeper into how Apple is using the Touch Screen they will see that they are very different in how the screen works. Just saying that the screen works by touching it, then Gene Roddenberry or some other SciFi creator would have real claim to the ideas, but the patent is there to protect how the touch screen works, not just the that it is a touch screen. I've not seen any other touch screens that work quite like the iPhone's. I will bet that there is no accellerometer, or proximity detectors to eliminate accidental input in the other devices like in the iPhone.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Proximity Detector

    After reading again they say that the proximity detector is in their product, but If I remember correctly, the iPhone uses a separate proximity sensor not built into the screen.

    Other question: Does QR have a US patent on any of this? Apple isn't selling these iPhones in the UK (at least not right away)

  1. jhorvatic

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Apple has 200 plus Patent

    This story is forgetting that Apple has 200 plus patents of there own on the iPhone. And no other phone manufacturer can say there phone is running OSX. Apple has a patent on that too. So I think for 1. with so many with a touch screen patent they would all fall mute in court. If anything Apple could sue them.

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