Apr 1st, 2010

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…

efinger

… 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.

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