Apple Park photo of the side of the main buildingSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • The United States Internation Trade Commission (USITC) is investigating Apple.
  • Maxell has complained that Apple infringed on some of its patents.
  • The investigation will cover "certain mobile electronic devices and laptop computers."

Apple is being investigated over the possibility of infringing on patents held by Maxell.

In a news release on its website, the United States Internation Trade Commission (USITC) has announced that it is launching an investigation into "certain mobile electronic devices and laptop computers" and has identified Apple as the target of the investigation. According to Maxell, Apple infringed on some of its patents.

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Maxell, Ltd., of Kyoto, Japan, on July 17, 2020. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain mobile electronic devices and laptop computers that infringe patents asserted by the complainant. The complainant requests that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order.

While the case has begun, there is still a long way before the USITC would make a determination on the merits of the case.

By instituting this investigation (337-TA-1215), the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case. The USITC's Chief Administrative Law Judge will assign the case to one of the USITC's administrative law judges (ALJ), who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The ALJ will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337; that initial determination is subject to review by the Commission.

According to the announcement, the USITC is looking to complete the investigation within 45 days after the investigation begins.

The USITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the USITC will set a target date for completing the investigation. USITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are 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.

Apple is fighting a number of lawsuits at the moment. The largest lawsuit, in which Epic Games is suing Apple over antitrust practices, just got its latest development in which Epic Games says it lost access to Apple development tools following its lawsuit.