Apple coughing up $5 million to settle patent infringement suit

Company agrees to pay $5 million to settle a suit launched by Taiwan-based Elan Microelectronics, which had accused Apple of infringing on an Elan multitouch patent.

Lance Whitney
Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.

Apple will spend $5 million to settle a suit filed by Elan Microelectronics over the alleged violation of a patent for multitouch technology, Elan said today.

As part of the settlement, the two companies have also received authorization to use each other's patents, according to Reuters.

In April 2009, Taiwan-based Elan filed its suit against Apple in U.S. District Court, accusing the iPhone maker of violating a 1998 Elan patent covering a method to detect the use of one or more fingers on a touchpad. Apple then countersued Elan for alleging infringing on two Apple touchpad-related patents.

Elan followed up the initial suit by filing a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission in 2010 seeking to ban the import of the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, MacBook, and Magic Mouse into the U.S.

The ITC ruled in favor of Apple last year, saying the company hadn't violated U.S. trade law. But Elan continued to pursue its suit in U.S. District Court. With the case due to go to trial in February, the two parties finally reached a settlement.

Like many tech firms these days, Apple keeps its lawyers busy dealing with a slew of patent infringement suits. The company has been juggling various suits against Samsung, HTC, and Motorola.

In an unrelated matter, Apple has also been fined $1.2 million by the Italian government over claims that the company encouraged customers to buy AppleCare support even though they had two years of free support after buying an Apple product.

Neither Apple nor Elan immediately responded to CNET's request for comment on the settlement.