Elan sues Apple over patent claims

Elan Microelectronics has filed a complaint at the US International Trade Commission (ITC) against Apple to enforce its patent rights.

The complaint alleges that Apple is violating Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing its iPhone, iPod Touch, MacBook and Magic Mouse products into the US, all of which, according to the company, infringe Elan’s US Patent 5,825,352.

Elan also alleges that the importation of Apple’s iPad products, which Apple has indicated will be available to consumers on 3 April, also violates the same section of the Act.

Elan is requesting that the ITC issues a permanent exclusion order barring the importation of those products into the US, as well as a cease-and-desist order barring Apple from selling any of these products in the US that it has already imported.

The ITC will decide whether it will institute an investigation within 30 days. If instituted, the ITC will set a target date by which it will complete the investigation and issue its final determination as to infringement and remedial orders.

Elan previously filed a lawsuit in the US district court in Northern California asserting the 352 patent against Apple on 7 April 2009. In that case Elan also alleges that Apple infringed the same patent.

The 352 patent relates to touch-sensitive input devices with the ability to detect the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers. Multi-finger applications are becoming popular in smartphone and computer applications, particularly with support for multi-finger gestures integrated into the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system.

In late 2008, Elan settled a lawsuit it brought against Synpatics over infringement of the 352 patent, resulting in a license agreement between the companies. That settlement was reached after the district court in California found that certain Synaptics touchpads included multi-finger detection methods that infringed the 352 patent.