Apple and RIM have just been sued by a company calling itself Touchscreen Gestures LLC for the alleged infringement of four patents relating to touch screen technology. The patents at issue were originally owned by a Taiwanese company called Sentelic Corporation. The patent applications were filed in 2004, which predates the 2007 launch of the first iOS device (the original iPhone).
The fact that the company launching the lawsuit does not appear to be a supplier of touchscreen technologies coupled with the fact that the patents were originally filed by a Taiwanese company have lead many people to speculate that the owners are “patent trolls” - i.e. patent owners who’s sole business is suing well heeled companies with lots of money. It’s a good business - RIM was taken to the cleaners a few years back by one such company to the tune of $600+ million.
The patents at issue are:
- US 7190356 (“A method of identifying double tap gesture”)
- US 7180506 (“A method for identifying a movement of single tap 7180506)
- US 7184031 (“A method identifying a drag gesture”).
- US 7,319,457 (“Method of Scrolling Window Screen by Means of Controlling Electronic Device”).
I have not examined these patents in detail; however, I suspect Apple’s attorneys will be looking at these and other patents relating to touch technology in great detail. After all, Apple was one of the first companies to introduce mobile touch screen devices (does anyone remember the Apple Neuton?).