Patent suit thumps Apple, RIM over drag, tap, and scroll

A company by the name of Touchscreen Gestures sues Apple and Research In Motion for alleged patent infringement.

Apple and RIM have been hit with another lawsuit, but this time around, the plaintiff is a company you probably don't know.

A firm called Touchscreen Gestures yesterday filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, claiming that the iPhone maker has violated four patents related to a host of smartphone gestures, including dragging, tapping on a display, and scrolling.

In a separate filing against Research In Motion, Touchscreen Gestures argues that the BlackBerry maker is violating the same four patents.

Paid Content was first to report on the lawsuit.

It's not immediately clear what Touchscreen Gestures actually does. CNET tried searching Google for information on the company, but it doesn't appear to have a Web site. The court filings also fail to say what the company does, describing the firm only as a "Texas Limited Liability Company."

Interestingly, the patents cited in the lawsuit are owned by Taiwan-based touchpad maker Sentelic, and not Touchscreen Gestures, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office filings. That said, it's possible that Sentelic could have sold the patents to Touchscreen Gestures somewhat recently, and the paperwork is behind.

The mobile space is by no means a stranger to lawsuits. Over the last couple years, just about every prominent company, including Apple, Google, and Samsung, has found its way into courtrooms to do battle over alleged patent infringement. However, in many of those cases, the plaintiffs have been major firms, and not unknown companies.

It's possible that Touchscreen Gestures is a so-called "patent troll." Such companies buy up patents for the sole purpose of eventually licensing them to major companies or suing firms in the event those patents are allegedly infringed.

A case in point: Back in December, Apple reportedly sold two patents to a Digitude Innovations to avoid a costly legal dispute.

Touchscreen Gestures is seeking a jury trial in both cases. If it's successful, the company has asked the court for damages and associated attorneys' fees.

Apple, RIM, and Sentelic did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on the lawsuit.

This story has been updated throughout the morning.

 

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