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Apple accused of violating multi-touch patent in ITC complaint

A Taiwanese maker of chips and touchscreens has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban the import and sale of Apple products for alleged violation of a multi-touch patent.

Elan Microelectronics hopes the commission will ban the sale of a number of Apple products, including the forthcoming iPad, along with the iPhone and iPod touch. According to Bloomberg, Elan has accused Apple of "knowingly and deliberately" using the company's technology and infringing on a patent it owns.

Other products alleged by Elan to infringe on its patent are the MacBook and Magic Mouse, both of which employ multi-touch technology. Elan reportedly owns a patent for detecting the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers.

The ITC now must decide whether it will investigate the claims made by Elan. If it chooses to do so, the investigation could take up to 15 months.

Elan previously sued Apple last April over the same patents. The company has already won a related suit against Synaptics, which is best-known for making trackpads as well as earlier forms of the conventional iPod scroll wheel.

The latest ITC complaint is one of a number the commission has before it that involve Apple. Early this month, Apple sued HTC in a complaint with the ITC, alleging that the rival handset maker infringed on 20 patents related to the iPhone's user interface, including multi-touch.

In addition, in recent months the iPhone maker has sued Nokia, and is also being sued by the Finnish handset maker. The ITC has agreed to look into both companies' complaints of patent infringement.

The ITC has also begun investigating claims made by Kodak against Apple. The camera company has alleged that Apple is in violation of patents that relate to the previewing of images, and processing them at different resolutions.