updated 11:50 am EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
Touchscreen Gestures may face prior art challenges
Previously unknown firm Touchscreen Gestures has sued Apple, HTC, RIM, and Samsung this week for allegedly violating four patents for some of the simplest elements of touchscreen input. iOS devices, newer BlackBerrys, and Android devices allegedly copy methods for single taps, double taps, dragging, and scrolling. The patents had been transferred at some point from notebook trackpad developer Sentelic, although whether they were bought or handed over with hopes of a payout aren't clear.
The lawsuit, filed in the patent lawsuit-friendly Eastern District of Texas, may face a difficult time in court. Although Touchscreen Gestures may be counting on specific implementations to win its case, the patents themselves were granted to Sentelic in 2007 and 2008, after the iPhone had been introduced using at least the superficial ideas of the patents. Earlier smartphones and PDAs had also implemented some of these methods as well.
While proxy companies like Touchscreen Gestures occasionally represent real patent holders hoping to get compensation, the timing of the patents, the specific naming, and the targets suggests behavior more common to a patent troll, a company that exists to profit exclusively on its own from patents it either didn't invent or as a fallback for an inability to compete fairly in the marketplace with those patents. Most such lawsuits are either quietly settled out of court for relatively small amounts or see the plaintiff lose.
Neither Apple nor HTC, RIM, or Samsung has commented on the lawsuits. [via paidContent]