ITC to Investigate Apple for Potential Patent Infringement

On Wednesday, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) announced that it will investigate Apple, Inc. for possible patent infringement for technology used in its mobile electronic devices and laptop computers. The USITC’s notice of investigation follows a complaint filed by Japan-based Maxell, Ltd. in July.

According to Maxell’s related patent infringement complaint, Apple violated the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing and selling devices that infringe on five of its patents.  Maxell “is a leading global manufacturer of information storage media products, including magnetic tapes, optical discs, and battery products such as lithium ion rechargeable micro batteries and alkaline dry batteries,” and, according to the complaint, “the company has over 50 years of experience producing industry-leading recordable media and energy products for both the consumer and the professional markets.” 

The public version of the USITC complaint argues that Apple committed direct and contributory infringement and infringement by inducement when it illegally appropriated patented technologies for use in devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The complaint also notes that “Apple has been given notice of its infringement by, among other things, the filing of a related patent infringement action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas and service of this Complaint.” Maxell seeks a permanent limited exclusion and a cease and desist order from the USITC.

Procedurally, the USITC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge will now assign the case to one of the Commission’s administrative law judges. That judge will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether there is merit to the alleged violation. That decision is subject to review by the USITC.

Maxell is represented by Mayer Brown LLP.