Cell Phone Multi-Touch Technology Lawsuits Continue

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Elan Microelectronics (EMG), a Taiwanese chipmaker that filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in November of 2008 has announced that it will include the iPad as an additional product in the suit. EMG filed a lawsuit against Apple because of the way the iPhone navigates the internet. The trial date is set for September 12, 2011.

EMG also filed a complaint on March 29th, 2010 with the International Trade Commission against Apple for using multi-touch technology in the iPhone, iPod Touch, MacBook, Magic Mouse, and the iPad. They claim Apple are in violation of EMG’s patent, No. 5,825,352 which covers “touch-sensitive input devices with the ability to detect the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers.” EMG has asked the International Trade Commission to ban the import of all five devices into the U.S.

March 2nd, Apple filed a lawsuit against HTC over 20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. Apple also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission trying to ban the import of HTCs devices that have multi-touch technology. The lawsuit appears that it is more aimed at the Android Operating System rather than HTC itself, but I think that Apple is afraid to sue Google right now, so they are going after HTC first. If they win this lawsuit, I believe they will use that as leverage in a Google lawsuit. That is just my opinion though. Engadget.com breaks down all 20 patents that Apple is suing HTC over very nicely, go here to check it out.

October 22nd, 2009 Nokia filed a patent Lawsuit against Apple stating they violated 10 different patents owned by Nokia ranging from speech coding to security to wireless data transmission. On December 11th, 2009 Apple filed a counter suit against Nokia claiming that Nokia is infringing 13 Apple patents, specifically Nokia models S60, E71 and 5310. The company seeks dismissal of Nokia’s complaint in its entirety, with prejudice, damages for Nokia’s alleged infringements, interest and legal fees.

Who is this ultimately going to hurt? The consumer. For the first time since the release of the iPhone, there are finally products being released that can compete with the iPhone and persuade consumers to consider purchasing alternative hand-held devices. The strong selling points of a lot of these new devices are that they are not locked down to only install Apple approved applications and that they work with other cell phone providers besides AT&T. There are plans of an iPhone being released for Verizon this summer though.

Two things that big businesses seem to care about first are money and power. These law suits are exactly that: “Mine is bigger than yours.” I understand that the point of a business is to make a profit, increase sales growth, and make the share holders happy. But when does compromising go too far and it starts affecting the customers experience with that company? What happened putting the customer first, which would in turn bring in profit and form a relationship with that customer for life? I believe these principals have been forgotten.

Unfortunately now we live in a world that everything must be settled with a law suit instead of sitting down, having a cup of coffee, and reaching a compromise.