U.S. Trade Agency to Review Apple's Patent Complaints Against Nokia

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has been kept busy with claims involving Apple recently, as the company has found itself involved in several high-profile disputes with major corporations over claims of patent infringement. Just a day after the agency agreed to investigate claims made by Kodak against Apple and Research in Motion regarding possible patent infringement, Bloomberg reports that the ITC has granted Apple's request to review actions by Nokia regarding intellectual property.

The ITC is a government agency whose job is to protect the U.S. market from unfair trade practices, including patent infringement. It could complete the investigation in about 15 months.

The battle between Apple and Nokia kicked off last October when Nokia sued Apple for infringement of a number of Nokia-held patents regarding various cellular and Wi-Fi technologies, a suit against which Apple vowed to "vigorously" defend itself. In mid-December, Apple did just that by filing a countersuit addressing Nokia's claims and claiming infringement of 13 Apple-held patents by Nokia.

Nokia responded with a request to the ITC in late December asking for a ban on the importation of "virtually all" Apple products. Apple fired back with its own request to the ITC a few weeks later similarly looking for a ban on importation of Nokia products as the dispute between the two companies continued to escalate.

The ITC granted Nokia's request for a review last month, and has now agreed to consider Apple's request, setting the stage for an independent examination of both companies' cases. As noted yesterday in our report on the Kodak case, the ITC typically grants requests for review, meaning that its decisions in the Nokia cases were not unexpected and any restrictions on the importation of goods from either country are unlikely. The ITC's reviews will, however, offer regulatory perspective on the various claims and the threat of possible importation restrictions will certainly encourage the companies to settle their dispute prior to any official trade-related measures being implemented.

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