updated 09:45 am EDT, Tue March 30, 2010
Success would temporarily cripple major lines
Taiwan's Elan Microelectronics -- involved in a long-running lawsuit with Apple over multi-touch technology -- has asked the US International Trade Commission to block the import and sale of a variety of Apple products, says Bloomberg. Specifically Elan says it wants to halt products that infringe on its "352" patent, which describes a means of detecting the presence of two or more fingers. "Our goal is to protect our technology and to stop sales of those products in the US," says Elan spokesman Dennis Liu.
Should the ITC uphold Elan's motion, even a temporary ban could potentially cripple Apple's major businesses. The MacBook, iPhone, iPod touch and Magic Mouse all rely on multi-touch, as does the iPad, which will only go on sale in the US this Saturday. Apple may be more likely to settle out of court with Elan than risk sales; the latter company is also claiming the advantage of precedent, as its patent was backed in a 2008 ruling against Synaptics.
Elan's renewed efforts come at the same time as Apple is targeting HTC with similar allegations. HTC phones, originating in Taiwan, could theoretically be barred from sale in the US. While both lawsuits involve multi-touch technology, it is not certain if there would be any overlap, as most of Apple's complaints involve less broad design traits such as gesture-based unlocking or particular forms of power management.