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US investigates Apple, RIM, Nokia over patent use

The US International Trade Commission will investigate claims made by Motorola against RIM, by Kodak against RIM and Apple, and by Apple against Nokia
Written by David Meyer, Contributor on

US trade regulators have launched investigations into Research In Motion and Apple over their use of patents owned by Motorola and Kodak. In addition, they have begun a probe into Nokia over its use of patents owned by Apple.

On Friday, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) said it had voted to look into the alleged use of Motorola patents in RIM's BlackBerry smartphones, software and battery packs.

Motorola filed a complaint against RIM in January, charging the Canadian handset manufacturer with continuing to use Motorola technology in its products, even though it stopped licensing that technology in 2007. The patents in dispute cover Wi-Fi access, application management, user interface and power management.

Motorola is seeking a ban on the products in question being imported into the US. According to the ITC's statement, the decision to investigate does not mean the regulators have come to any conclusion about the merits of the complaint.

Separately, the ITC said on Wednesday that it is investigating RIM and Apple over their importation and sale of "certain mobile telephones and wireless communication devices featuring digital cameras and components thereof that infringe a patent asserted by Kodak".

In January, camera company Eastman Kodak filed a complaint with the ITC over RIM and Apple's use of colour image previewing technology.

Another separate investigation by the ITC covers Nokia's importation and sale of smartphones that "infringe patents asserted by Apple", the regulatory body said on Friday.

Apple requested a ban on the import into the US on Nokia handsets in January, after several claims and counterclaims had been filed in US courts between it and Nokia. Each company alleged infringement of its patents by the other.

The ITC opened an investigation into Apple in late January, after Nokia asked the regulators to introduce an import ban on Apple's iPhone, iPod and MacBook products.

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