Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, LG... essentially any company that's ever used a touchpad on a portable device is being sued by a little-known US firm.
21 companies are under the spotlight for the alleged infringement, which relates to a patent filed by Tsera in 1999 and granted in 2003.
The patent itself is a little woolly with its wording, which could make it harder to force through damages in the courts:
"A touchpad is mounted on the housing of the device, and a user enters commands by tracing patterns with his finger on a surface of the touchpad.
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"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."
Pattern matching - not like knitting
"A microcontroller within the device matches the pattern traced by the user against a plurality of preset patterns, each of which corresponds to a predefined function or command of the device.
"If the pattern traced by the user is a reasonably close match to any of the preset patterns, the device performs the predefined function corresponding to the matched pattern."
That doesn't sound like an iPod or other device, rather only things like the trackpad on LG's latest Crystal phone, where shapes can be drawn to open certain applications. Even then the user still needs to look at the screen to see what they're doing, so once again it doesn't seem a direct infringement.
Tsera is homing in on Apple for triple damages, as it claimed it knew about the patent and 'wilfully' infringed it, and is asking for future royalties on all companies looking to use the technology.
Via The Register