Trade agency to investigate Apple's patent complaint

Apple's complaint stems from a smartphone patent dispute between it and Motorola

The U.S. International Trade Commission has voted to investigate a smartphone patent complaint brought by Apple against Motorola, the latest action in a recent patent dispute between the two companies.

The USITC's announcement Tuesday that it will launch an investigation of Motorola follows a decision by the agency earlier this month to investigate patent complaints filed by Motorola against Apple.

Motorola in early October filed a lawsuit and USITC complaint, alleging that a wide range of Apple products violate its patents. Motorola's three complaints cover 18 patents, including communication technologies related to W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), general packet radio service (GPRS), 802.11 and antenna design, as well as smartphone technologies related to wireless e-mail, proximity sensing, application management and location-based services, the company said.

Apple returned the favor later in the month, filing patent lawsuits against Motorola and Motorola Mobility. Apple also filed a complaint with the USITC at that time.

Apple is accusing Motorola of infringing six patents, three of them focused on touchscreens. Motorola's Droid, Droid 2, Droid X and several other products infringe the patents, Apple alleged.

Apple has asked the USITC to bar the Motorola products from being imported into the U.S. Apple also wants the agency to order Motorola to stop infringing its patents.

U.S. companies alleging patent infringement by competitors often file so-called section 337 complaints with the USITC in addition to filing lawsuits. Many section 337 complaints result in settlements.

The next step in the complaint is for an administrative law judge at the USITC to schedule an evidentiary hearing on the Apple complaint.

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service
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