US trade agency to investigate Apple devices

Apple's finding itself in court a lot lately

A new development in an ongoing patent quarrel between Apple and Motorola Mobility broke Tuesday, with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) deciding it will take a magnified look at some of Apple's signature products.

Those include "certain Apple iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Apple personal computers," according to an ITC press release.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint filed by Motorola against Apple on Aug. 17, 2012.

"The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain wireless communication devices, portable music and data processing devices, computers, and components thereof that infringe patents asserted by the complainants," the release reads.

Motorola is requesting the ITC issue an exclusion order and a cease and desist order.

Step by step

Although an investigation has been launched, the ITC was quick to point out that it hasn't made a decision on the merits of the case.

A multi-step process must occur before any ban is instated.

The next move is for the organization's chief administrative law judge to assign the case to one of the ITC's six administrative law judges (ALJ). It falls on that judge to schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing.

Following the hearing, the ALJ will make an determination as to whether this is a violation of section 337. That ruling is then subject to review by the ITC.

Before any action is taken, the ITC will make a final determination as to whether Apple is guilty of patent infringement or not.

The ITC has 45 days from the institution of the investigation to set a target end date, according to the release.

Any remedial order issued in this case is effective "when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative within that 60-day period."

Ongoing process

This is just the latest in a disagreement spanning international boundaries.

A German court ruled last week that Apple could pursue a ban of Motorola products that violate its patents in that country.

The ITC also issued a ruling Aug. 24 that Apple didn't violate three Motorola patents covering 3G wireless technology.

According to CNET, this latest contest could take over a year to complete, and even then the judgement will need to be reviewed by the ITC.

Meanwhile, Apple has a pending Dec. 6 court date with Samsung to wrap up loose ends in the firm's $1.05 billion win against the South Korean company.

Stay tuned to TechRadar for all the latest in this developing patent war.

From US ITC via CNET

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.