Apple once again finds itself at the center of a controversy brought before the International Trade Commission (ITC), a governing body tasked with preventing unfair trade practices and equipped with the power to outright ban the import of a company’s products.
Bloomberg News is reporting that the Taiwanese based company Elan Microelectronics has asked the ITC to ban the import of Apple products such as the iPhone, iPod, and iPad, alleging that Apple has knowingly and willingly implemented multi-touch technology that infringes on a number Elan patents. Also named in the complaint is Apple’s MacBook which employs a multi-touch trackpad, and Apple’s Magic Mouse which allegedly “infringes an Elan patent for detecting the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers.”
Apple is of course no stranger to the ITC as it’s currently embroiled in a legal battle with Nokia over patent technologies wherein both companies have filed formal ITC complaints seeking to ban the import of the other’s products. More recently, Apple filed a lawsuit against Taiwanese based handset manufacturer HTC for infringing on 20 of Apple patents relating to iPhone and operating system technology.
Now before you panic and decide to go sell all of your Apple stock, know that the ITC first has to agree to investigate Elan’s complaint before any definitive rulings can handed down. Assuming that the ITC does agree to look into Elan’s complaint, Bloomberg writes that the investigation could be completed within 15 months.
Notably, Elan Microelectronics does have some legal precedent on their side.
Elan also sued Apple in April 2009 in federal court in California claiming infringement of the same patent. That patent was affirmed after a California district court found Synaptics Inc. infringed that same technology in a 2008 ruling, Elan said. Elan had also claimed another patent was infringed in that lawsuit.
In early January, Apple also found itself on the receiving end of an ITC complaint lodged by Kodak for allegedly infringing Kodak’s proprietary digital imaging technology in the iPhone. Such is life when you’re on top.
You might also be interested: Is Apple going after HTC because they have a small number of patents?