Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Apple sued by Elan Microelectronics for touch-screen phones
Sales of the iPhone and iPad could come under threat due to claims for patent infringement.
The US International Trade Commission (ITC) is currently investigating Apple.
Elan Microelectronics, a Taiwanese touchscreen maker, reported Apple to the ITC claiming the company used patented multi-touch technology (which detects when more than one finger is on the keypad) to build iPads and iPhones.
There have already been billions of dollars worth of sales of iPads and iPhones, both of which are touchscreen mobile devices.
In 2008 Elan won a similar case against touchpad technology company Synaptics, and now they are accusing Apple of "knowingly and deliberately" infringing the patent.
If the accusations are proved the ITC has the power to ban the import and sale of iPhones and iPads and order a cease and desist for any previously imported products.
It is thought that Elan maybe seeking a licensing agreement with Apple for the multi-touch technology.
Roberta Cozza, an analyst at research firm Gartner said: "Touchscreens are becoming more and more popular and are used on both expensive and mid-range phones.
"As phone capabilities increase, buyers are becoming more aware of the benefits of touch interfaces, and sellers are responding."
Over the next three years Gartner expects touchscreens to make up 58% of all mobile device sales worldwide and over 80% in Western Europe and North America.