The suit, filed in the US District Court in San Francisco, states that Apple's MacBook, iPhone and iPod Touch all infringe on patents owned by Elan.
"We could not find a common viewpoint with Apple, so we decided we had to take action," Dennis Liu, an Elan spokesman, told The New York Times.
He added that the company had been in talks with Apple for about two years over the issue, but had been unable to reach an agreement.
This is not the first time Elan has sued over the patents it holds on touch-screen technology. The company sued US firm Synaptics in 2006 over infringements of one of the patents in the Apple suit, and eventually settled on a cross-licensing arrangement.
"From their previous victory in the case with Synaptics, I think they should be quite confident," said Jessica Chang, a Credit Suisse analyst based in Taipei. "Elan believes they have a unique edge with this patent, and they want to send a signal to the market and set an example for others."
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