Once upon a time there was a company called FingerWorks who developed mutitouch devices since 1998. But then they were bought buy a big company. Let's see, what was that big company called ... oh, yeah: Apple.
"FingerWorks was a gesture recognition company based in the United States, known mainly for itsTouchStream multi-touch keyboard. Founded by John Elias and Wayne Westerman of the University of Delaware in 1998, it produced a line of multi-touch products including the iGesture Pad and the TouchStream keyboard, which were particularly helpful for people suffering from RSI and other medical conditions. The keyboards were immediately discontinued when the company's assets were acquired byApple Inc. in early 2005."
"Apple filed patents for in 2005-2007 and was awarded with in 2009-2010"
About Jeff Han:
(scroll to headline: "iPhone and Multi Touch?")
"The iPhone uses Multi-Touch technology. FingerWorks has been bought by Apple in June 2006. Jeff Han has not been hired by Apple to work on the iPhone. There were rumors that Apple had tried (unsuccessfully) to hire Jeff at one point to work on the launch of the iphone. NY Times techie David Pogue even asked Steve Jobs about him on the day of the launch. Here's Jeff Hans' response on the iPhone: "The iPhone is absolutely gorgeous, and I've always said, if there ever were a company to bring this kind of technology to the consumer market, it's Apple. I just wish it were a bit bigger so I could really use both of my hands." Check Apple's patent for its Apple iTablet and Touch-screen iPod, iTouch, and iPhone."
Read all about Apples patents:
IIRC Microsoft as well has multi-touch patents from the 2005/2006 era, but they and Apple have cross licensing agreement:
We can finally read the once secret agreement here:
And if you have too much time on your hands, good old Eran has a long ass article on his site: