Apple, Microsoft and some 20 other companies are being sued for patent infringement by a Texas firm which claims to have invented the touchpad.
Tsera LLC filed the suit earlier this week at the US District Court, Eastern Texas Division. According to the complaint filed Tsera, the company owns "all right, title and interest in" a patent which it describes as "methods and apparatus for controlling a portable electronic device using a touchpad." The patent was filed in 1999 and granted in 2003.
Here is a PDF of the filing.
Interestingly, the suit singles out Apple, claiming that the company knew of the existance of the patent back in 2004 and that is "has been and continues to be willful, wanton, and deliberate, and carried out with full knowledge and awareness of the Plaintiff’s patent rights and without license from Plaintiff."
The whole suit sounds shaky to me though given the patent in question. The patent covers a touchpad which relies on users stroking the pad where different strokes correspond to "a predefined function or command of the device" and then goes on to say that "no immediate visual feedback is provided as a command pattern is traced, and the user does not need to view the device to enter commands." This seems to b a gesture-based touchpad and is not similar to the touchpad on an iPod or a Zune or any other media player I know of or have seen.
I can see the legal hounds at Apple and Microsoft ripping this case to bits in no time at all.