Apple Sued Twice Over iPad Tech: Steve Jobs Drowns in Litigation Documents

by Matt Klassen on April 6, 2010

In business and war alike, one of the key principles for success is to avoid splitting your forces at all costs. Fighting a two-front war, as many unfortunate countries have found in the past, almost certainly spells defeat. So with several companies filing various patent infringement lawsuits against Apple’s iPad this past week, it remains to be seen just how long Steve Jobs and his crack team of lawyers can keep their enemies at bay.

It certainly seems that patent infringement lawsuits are all the rage these days, with companies suing and being sued with reckless abandon. Apple itself is not only suing HTC for several major patent violations, but is itself embroiled in litigation with Nokia and EMG Technology. The latter recently amended its accusations against Apple to include the newly released iPad, as the tech company claims Apple’s App Store, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Apple TV all violate patents that EMG registered in 1999, several years before Apple developed the technology in question.

While Apple has shown not only that it can manage a two-front conflict with relative ease, but that it can also play legal offense and defense simultaneously, I do wonder how easy it will be to fight a four or five-front war; as last week Apple was served with yet another patent infringement lawsuit at the hands of Elan Technologies.

If EMG’s revised iPad/iPhone lawsuit wasn’t enough, in an interesting game of give-and-take, Taiwanese chip-maker Elan Technologies has reportedly sued Apple for patent infringement as well, pressuring lawmakers in the US to block the import of Apple’s iPad and iPhone from Apple’s manufacturers overseas.

For Apple this certainly seems like a dose of technological karma, as several weeks ago they sued Google’s primary handset manufacturer HTC for violating several of the same patents in question in the EMG and Elan lawsuits, with Apple then pressuring lawmakers to halt the import of Android-based devices.

EMG’s initial lawsuit against Apple, filed in 2008, specifically targeted the iPhone’s touchscreen browser, with the claim that it infringed on EMG’s 1999 patent titled, “Apparatus and method of manipulating a region on a wireless device screen for viewing, zooming and scrolling internet content.” With the same touchscreen technology employed on both the iPod Touch and the iPad, including those devices in the lawsuit now was an obvious course of action for EMG.

While there are no details on Elan’s lawsuit against Apple, the problem for EMG’s case  is simply that their patent infringement allegations are far too broad, covering technology that many companies have been using for years. Regardless, the case will not be heard in court till 2011, and its doubtful that it will hurt Apple in any lasting way.

Nevertheless, it was just a matter of time before someone took some legal shots at the iPad, and while neither of these recent litigations are likely to interfere with the importing of the iPad in the next several months, don’t be surprised if several other companies join in on the patent infringement fun.

So while it remains unclear about the real strength of either of these lawsuits, one thing is certain; patent infringement litigation is a messy and drawn out process, one that provides an ever-present nagging headache for both parties involved, so it will certainly be interesting to see how Apple manages its ever-growing docket of these meddling infringement cases.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS >, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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