Apple, Elan Touch Screen Dispute Won't Be The Last - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Devices

Apple, Elan Touch Screen Dispute Won't Be The Last

While patent holders like to portray the alleged offenders as evil, a company can build its own technology without ever looking at a competitors' and still violate someone's IP, experts point out.

With touch screens becoming increasingly more prevalent in computers, smartphones, and other devices, the tech industry is likely to see many more lawsuits like the one Apple was recently served by Elan Microelectronics.

That's because companies can easily infringe on another's pattern without knowing, or after making an honest determination that their own technology is unique, experts suggest.

"It's very easy to get sued for patent infringement in the United States," Yar Chaikovsky, patent attorney in Silicon Valley for the law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, told InformationWeek. "You're not looking at a high hurdle."

In the case of the Elan suit, filed Tuesday in San Francisco federal court, the Taiwanese company claims Apple's technology for using multiple fingers to manipulate images and other content on a touch screen infringes on two Elan patents, The New York Times reported. The infringement allegedly involves the MacBook computer, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

While it's not clear what damages Elan is seeking, Chaikovsky said it's likely the company would seek a cross-licensing deal with Apple, which is certain to have patents that Elan would find useful.

Given the projected growth in touch-screen devices, as well as lax U.S. patent laws, the industry probably will see many more such suits. Sales of touch-screen displays will reach $6.4 billion by 2013 from $3.4 billion in 2008, according to iSuppli.

With so much money at stake, companies will try to get the most they can from their patents. Apple itself put rivals on notice in January that it will defend its own intellectual property. The warning came in the same month Palm unveiled its Pre smartphone, a multitouch device hailed by industry observers.

"We are watching the landscape," chief operating officer Tim Cook told financial analysts. "We like competition, as long as they don't rip off our IP, and if they do, we're going to go after anybody that does."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
News
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Commentary
Where Cloud Spending Might Grow in 2021 and Post-Pandemic
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/19/2020
Slideshows
The Ever-Expanding List of C-Level Technology Positions
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/10/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
Slideshows
Flash Poll