According to court documents filed, a small company called tsera is suing an array of companies for patent infringement. The Register cites the Texas-based company as saying it owns "all right, title and interest in" a patent for "Methods and apparatus for controlling a portable electronic device using a touchpad." As a result, Tsera says that a barrage of products on the market including Apple's iPod classic and nano, LG's Chocolate VX8500 and Microsoft's Zune utilize such technologies without its permission.
While there are roughly 20 companies named in the suit, it seems Tsera is focusing on Apple for "willful" infringement because it allegedly knew about the aforementioned patent infringement in 2004, a year after Tsera was awarded the patent. The company is seeking significant damages from Apple and royalties from everyone else named.
The patent includes MP3 players, portable radios, voice recorders and portable CD players. Tsera defines the touchpad technology as follows:
"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. 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. 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. The touchpad replaces the numerous buttons that are typically used to control portable electronic devices, thereby enhancing usability and reducing manufacturing costs."
The full patent is available here. So what's the verdict? Half-baked grabbing-attempt from Tsera or a genuine case for patent infringement? Let us know your thoughts below!