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Apple Sued Over Touch-Screen Keyboard

Apple may be rolling in dough from the successful release of its iPhone, but all that money lying around also seems to have made the company a lawsuit magnet. First, a Chicago man sued Apple for the iPhone’s battery life limitations, and now a Florida company is claiming its touch-screen keyboard violates a seven-year-old patent it holds.

According to AppleInsider, SP Technologies formally lodged its complaint against Apple on Thursday, with a court in Tyler, Texas. The company’s patent, 6,784,873, is for a “Method and medium for computer readable keyboard display incapable of user termination.” The patent describes an input area “created by a computer program on a display capable of receiving touch-screen input,” that may “contain a keyboard which is an image map.”

While the iPhone touch-screen keyboard may fit this loose description, so would many traditional PDA keyboard inputs that use a stylus instead of fingers. SP Technologies’ patent holding also makes a point of noting that its keyboard “may not be minimized, maximized, or deleted,” while Apple’s clearly can be. It will be up to the courts to settle whether there is any actual infringement.

Since the story broke, InformationWeek discovered that the man holding the patent, Peter V. Boesen of Des Moines Iowa, is facing a 51-month prison sentence for healthcare fraud. Their research also turned up past lawsuits against Canon, LG Electronics, and Kyocera filed through SP Technologies.