Apple Tastes Own Medicine, Gets Sued For Multi-Touch


Since the launch of WebOS, Apple has been blabbing at the mouth about how they’ll protect their company from others stealing their innovations. But they didn’t act for a LONG time. Then, last month, the entire thing popped up and HTC was the target in Apple’s crosshairs. Let’s recall how things have gone:

elanApple thought they had such a HUGE advantage over HTC and this advantage is probably the reason HTC got thumbed instead of Palm (despite HTC’s history of innovation). But now Apple is getting a taste of their own medicine – the first two paragraphs of this GigaOM article say it all:

Elan Microelectronics filed suit against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission today, alleging that certain Apple products violate a multitouch patent previously awarded to the Taiwanese company. Elan in April of last year filed a related suit with the U.S. District Court in Northern California over the same patent — No. 7,274,353 — which it calls “a fundamental patent to the detection of multi-fingers that allows for any subsequent multi-finger applications to be implemented.”

By going to the ITC in addition to filing a patent infringement suit, Elan seeks to block Apple from importing its products into the U.S. that use multitouch, including the iPhone, iPod touch, MacBook, Magic Mouse and the iPad, which is due for release on April 3. Since Apple products are designed in Cupertino but assembled outside of the U.S., Elan is courting the appropriate trade commission that has authority to stop such products from reaching America’s shores. Notably, any ITC findings will be binding regardless of the patent lawsuit outcome, thanks to a loophole in U.S. patent law. Ironically, Apple is using this same strategy to try and block HTC from importing phones that Cupertino alleges violate its patents.

Incredibly interesting turn of events… can you imagine if the import of all Apple products into the United States was blocked? This certainly thickens the plot. Taking a quick look at the ELAN website we learn one thing…


… ELAN isn’t any better at naming their products than Apple. If you used eFinger on the iPad that would be one very, very naughty gesture.

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! That’s hilarious!

  2. This is awesome take that APPLE! We all knew that you were not as perfect as you were stating you were! I hope APPLE losses that is what they get for messing with HTC and ANDROID!

  3. Ahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa I love it.

    We’ll see how well it holds up though ::crosses fingers::

  4. JBC – Don’t you mean ::crosses eFinger:: ???????

  5. elan giving apple the efinger!

  6. Lets hope they don’t sue HTC !

  7. haha apple is getting bent over, with android comming out with its 2.1 update for droids, and google working on its new OS, apple is getting scared.

  8. lololololololol apples can suck my eFinger and shove it through their iPad

  9. I hope elan wins this case even more than I hope the Desire comes to the US!

  10. Yeah, and I have a 12 inch penis.

    April Fools.

  11. hahahahahahaha…. hilarious !:-)

  12. I’m thinkin this is an april fools lol too good to be true

  13. I knew this was an April’s fools joke when I seen the word “a”…as in “a patent.” Nobody ever sues with just one patent….that’s just ridiculous and unbelievable.

  14. it’s not an AF, the info was on the Internet yesterday, and Tuesday too.

  15. I guess eFinger sounded better then eThumb? I noticed on the demo they don’t like to pinch, but some serious carpal tunnel going to happen using the first 2 fingers for everything.

  16. This is no JOKE… check this: – So, Apple will now learn one of the oldest rules of Warfare, to live by the sword is to die by it’s very hand. Too bad Apple & S.Jobs, It’s a difficult thing when you start believing your own impotence, errrr, sorry importance. Apple has no legs in their lawsuit against HTC and now will have to beg an grovel to get their units into the U.S., I totally love this and would love to see Google step in and make an offer for the patents to Elan. THAT would make the best JOKE on APPLE “EVER”!!! Come on Google fight back with teeth! I hope we read tomorrow that Google made an offer they couldn’t refuse and now S.Jobs and all his fan boiis are DONE! hahahaha!

  17. Where did I read this term…. “Patent Nuclear War”…. in a sense, having all these patents was like the USA and USSR having all kinds of nuclear missiles. All it takes is one side to fire the first shot, and you’ve got scorched earth… nobody wins. Apple was dumb enough to pull the trigger first. Now they’re going down too. Awesome.

  18. PLEASE, PLEASE don’t be an april fools!

  19. Oh its true, I read it yesterday on I just hope Apple backs down from HTC long enough to let HTC outshine the iPhone. then by the time they get around to doing anything about “stolen” multi-touch HTC will have already moved on an innovated the crap out of the smartphone market to the point that the iPhone’s precious multi-touch will be ancient tech history.

  20. It’s all just a giant pissing contest anyways…

  21. Does not seem like an April Fools prank. This was released two days ago and this link on Elan’s site speaks for itself:

  22. MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. The reason why the cold war never got hot.

    on a side note. Apple is going to have to drop their lawsuit. What if they won?! They would get to block HTC but at the same time have set a precedent and they get to lose the US market for themselves at the same time.

    If you read the Elan website, they have already sued another company for infringement on the same patent, and won.

    I guess the moral of the story is Taiwanese stick together.

  23. Nokia already dropped the ITC hammer on Apple. Hopefully, it will continue. Apple is notorious for using other peoples’ stuff without permission, and for getting pissy when someone does it to them.

  24. Good for them.

    Apple deserves it.

  25. It’s funny how Elan can actually stop the shipment since apple products are made in Asia. But the US courts wont go against a US icon like Apple. The end result will be a settlement where apple pays x amount of money to Elan.

  26. Ha Ha

  27. the most awesome outcome possible is if the htc suit gets dropped and elan wins their suit.

  28. apple your finger Elan…

    love this one!!

  29. Re: would love to see Google step in and make an offer for the patents to Elan.

    OMFG That would be sick!!!! Google owning multi touch!

  30. @shay
    +1 hahahaha that would add insult to injury

  31. how do you like them apples……!

  32. Fucking.. awesome!

  33. I have expected a patent nuclear war for years.
    I just never thought it would be Apple that started one.
    Live by the patent. Die by the patent.
    Once Apple sued HTC, I kind of assumed that Google could make this turn ugly. Apple’s proxy attack on Android is attacking an entire budding industry. One that is likely to eventually dominate all other phone/mobile device OSes. Can Apple/Jobs truly be so arrogant to think that this would not go unanswered? (Stop! Don’t answer that.)
    Google and other Android partners may have an array of patents that cover every single product Apple has ever made or ever will make forever and ever. Yes this could turn nasty.
    I always assumed Microsoft would start a patent nuclear war against Linux, and then IBM would use it’s vast arsenal of patents to retaliate. Now if Apple decides to more directly attack Linux instead of just Android, that could still happen.

  34. I have expected a patent nuclear war for awhile. I just never thought it would be Apple that would start one. I guess live by the patent, die by the patent.
    When Apple first sued HTC, I realized this was really a proxy attack on Android and I also realized that Google could make this get really ugly.
    Apple is effectively trying to sue an entire industry. An OS that is likely to become the dominant platform in all mobile devices. Is Apple/Jobs so arrogant to assume this would not go unanswered? (Stop, don’t answer that!)
    Google and its partners interested in Android probably have a vast array of patents which are infringed by every product Apple has ever made or ever will make forever and ever.
    I had assumed the patent nuclear war would start with Microsoft against Linux and that IBM would then retaliate with its vast patent arsenal. If Apple were to more directly attack Linux instead of Android, that could still happen.
    In case you think it’s april fools, here are some links:

  35. HA fuck apple

    i like oranges better anyway lmfao

  36. this is awesome
    elan makes touhscreens for htc phones so I guess htc got elan to sue apple :D
    take that apple
    steve jobs your a tired old fool

  37. Absolutely loving this. Google, please offer elan some cash for that patent. It would make things 10x more interesting! :)

  38. Let’s not get too elated – what if Apple tries to buy the patent off Elan?

  39. Wow.. Seems like I read an article just like this one.. But a year ago on engadget.. Wonder if they’ll sue htc/google as well on this one?

  40. This isn’t the first time Apple has tried to sue someone over someone else’s innovations. Remember when the tried to sue Microsoft over Windows? It turned out they stole all their “innovation” from Xerox.

    I really like macs.
    It’s just that i prefer android over iphone os (minus android’s media player)

  42. Breaking News the Taiwanese flip Apple the eFinger! haha…

    Just love seeing those that live by the sword about to die by their own sword! :D

    Knew this was coming when Apple iPhone launched and they threatened the entire industry with litigation. This was in the midst of them being served notice by Nokia, Elan and a whole slew of other patent holders of Mobile Phone Technology, that their assumed new inventions of that market, was simply re-innovation of pre-existing patents in a business they were just newbies.

    btw… this multitouch war started before iPhone was launched. When Elan sued Logitech and they counter-sued on the same technology. They settled out of court with mutual licensing agreement. Elan then made offer to buy logitech’s Transparent Touchscreen division. When Apple launched the iPhoney, Elan served notice that they held prior patents and demanded fees.

    Like with Nokia, Apple chose to ignore them. The acquisition of Elantech with their purchase from Logitech was officially complete by October of 2007. Now Elan had two patents and one being applied specifically to iPad in the ITC. They previously settled with Synaptic winning funds in late 2009 to pop this these new ITC cases and lawsuits on Apple!

    Because of a forgotten provision that allows banning of import of devices (that Apple itself is using against HTC) any stock now in country could be pulled from shelfs in a cease and desist order. Along with a ban on all Apple products that infringed these two patents.

    Apple by attacking HTC (Pearl Harbor) have ignited a War that will engulf the entire mobile market in a free for all. In the end, consumers should grab a bag of popcorn for the greatest patents fireworks extravaganza the World has ever seen!

    What was that Steve? “Evil is Bullsh*t” (referring to Google’s pre-war cry of; “Don’t Be Evil”! ….I think Hitler said that about the USA getting into WWII!!! :P

  43. “Where did I read this term…. “Patent Nuclear War”…. in a sense, having all these patents was like the USA and USSR having all kinds of nuclear missiles. All it takes is one side to fire the first shot, and you’ve got scorched earth… nobody wins. Apple was dumb enough to pull the trigger first. Now they’re going down too. Awesome”

    Not with $30 billion dollars in the bank they’re not…..What is up with all you Android idiots? I have just bought a HTC Legend, had the Hero before that and I also have an iPhone. They’re all great phones. Anybody who doesn’t think that HTC haven’t pinched some of Apple’s patents is deluding themselves. Remind me how many HTC handsets there were with a swipe to unlock screen before the iPhone? errrr….dohhhhhh.

  44. Totally.

  45. The 2 finger scrolling is just like the new JooJoo (aka the CrunchPad). Add JooJoo into the suit?

  46. Google should buy them out and destroy Apple.

  47. sheesh! wow its ganna be something to see how this story ends…

  48. nice Article… Thanks For Information….

  49. dont forget kodak and nokia are also suing apple too

  50. I actually went in the apple store today, and when the staff weren’t looking, got this up on all the imacs! I was then escorted out of the shop but it was worth it they were so pissed off!

  51. You know what? I’m gonna patent “a device for manipulating (in any direction) the front wheels of an automobile from inside the passenger compartment, through mechanical or electrical or electronic means”……

    That means everyone who wants to own a car will have to pay me to have a steering wheel, or even a d-pad, to control their car…

    It’s about as sensible as all this other patent malarkey going on!

    And don’t any of you lot think about patenting it first……….

    …coz I’ll cry!

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