International Trade Commission Takes Up Apple/Moto Patent Complaint

The U.S. International Trade Commission will be reviewing Apple’s patent infringement claims against Motorola’s Android phones. The agency announced on Wednesday that it would investigate Apple’s complaint that Motorola was violating patents that Apple holds with several of its Android-powered smartphones, and the ITC could, in theory, ban the import of those phones produced overseas (read: all of them) into the U.S.

The ITC’s announcement is merely the latest stage in the battle between Apple and much of the established cellphone industry as Apple, Motorola, Nokia, HTC, and a virtual alphabet suit of other companies have filed lawsuits and trade complaints against each other as each seeks recompense, and/or blocking of competitors phones, or even retaliatory strikes for alleged violations of a variety of patents.

For instance, Motorola and Nokia have accused Apple of violating patents in the way iPhones have been physically constructed. Apple has struck back with claims that the two companies (and other smartphone makers) have violated patents it owns on touchscreen interface concepts.

The ITC is merely one venue where these battles are being fought. Lawsuits are being filed through the Federal court system, while the Federal Trade Commission and the International Trade Commission have jurisdiction over such areas as what can be imported, so all of these companies have duplicated at least some of their complaints with those agencies, as well.

In a bureaucratic spasm, the ITC said it has a target date of 45 days to announce a target date for actually concluding the investigation, and a decision will be announced at some point after that. 60 days after that, said decision becomes final. That is, of course, unless, “disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative.”

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