Apple to pay Elan $5m to settle patent lawsuit

Elan Microelectronics Corp, a Taiwanese touch design company, said on Thursday that Apple Inc will pay $5m as part of a settlement in a patent infringement case.

The statement said the two companies would also exchange authorizations to use each other's patents in limited instances.

"We are glad to put the Elan case behind us and avoid a drawn-out court battle," an Apple spokeswoman said. "The cross-licensing agreement gives Elan access to two of Apple's Touch patents, but none of the innovations that make iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch unique."

In 2009, Elan sued Apple in the United States over two patent infringements and the Cupertino, California-based giant countersued later the same year.

The U.S. ITC - International Trade Commission ruled in favor of Apple in June last year, saying Apple had not violated U.S. trade law.

Apple is involved in a number of patent disputes following the massive popularity of the company's flagship products the iPhone, iPad and MacBook among consumers. Apple is also embroiled in acrimonious lawsuits over Google Inc's Android players as the two camps battle for market share.

Lawsuits, especially patent disputes, are common in the technology sector as makers seek to protect their newest technologies from being commoditized and exploited by rivals. But most are settled out of court as big companies prefer to avoid long fights and patented technology can be out of date by the time a case is over.

(Published by Reuters - January 5, 2012)

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