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Taiwanese chip co asks ITC to ban iPad imports

Elan claims multitouch patent violations

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After its lawsuits against Nokia and HTC, it's Apple's turn to be on the receiving end. Elan Microelectronics, a Taiwanese chip designer which sued the iPhone maker last year, has stepped up its actions, asking the US International Trade Commission for an injunction barring imports of the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad.

The smaller firm accuses Apple of violating an Elan patent that covers "touch sensitive input devices with the ability to detect the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers". It claims the three portable devices, plus the MacBook and Magic Mouse, are in violation of its patent, No. 5,825,352.

There is irony that the suit focuses on multitouch, given that this is a key area where Apple claims to have intellectual property, and where it has been litigious itself.

"We have taken the step of filing the ITC complaint as a continuation of our efforts to enforce our patent rights against Apple's ongoing infringement. A proceeding in the ITC offers a quick and effective way for Elan to enforce its patent," the company said in a statement. Apple gave no statement.

Elan won a similar legal action against Synaptics, a company that has set itself up as the alternative to the Apple gesture controls and which has its own gesture patents.

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Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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