Apple has been sued in U.S. District Court for patent infringement. The complaint alleges that Apple’s touch interface devices – yes, all of them – infringe on a patent owned by Flatworld Interactives, LLC.
The application for the patent was filed in 1998 by Slavoljub Milekic, and the patent itself was granted in 2005. The patent, which can be read in full here, appears to deal with some sort of children’s toy with a touch screen interface that allows users to manipulate objects on the screen by touching and dragging them.
The complaint, which can be read here, alleges that every multitouch device Apple makes – iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, iPod Nano, Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and the trackpads on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air – infringes this patent. Flatworld claims that “Apple’s infringement of the… patent has been on a massive scale, and has taken place with actual knowledge of the inventions claimed therein.” The complaint asks for a permanent injunction against the infringing products and “damages in an amount sufficient to compensate for Apple’s infringement,” award triple damages, and order Apple to pay FlatWorld’s attorney fees.
While many patent lawsuits are ridiculous – even those brought by larger companies against each other – this one is pretty plainly a patent troll. While patent trolls can sometimes extort sizable settlements from cases like this, Apple is usually more inclined to fight them. That being the case, don’t expect FlatWorld Interatives, LLC to get much of a payday.