The US International Trade Commission (ITC) said on Wednesday it had voted to launch an investigation into a patent infringement accusation by Eastman Kodak Co against Apple Inc and Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC Corp (宏達電).
The decision came after Kodak, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection in the US, lodged a complaint with the commission on Jan. 10, accusing Apple and HTC of stealing its technology used in certain electronics devices and components for capturing and transmitting images.
The commission said the products that would be investigated included camera phones, tablet computers and other handheld devices.
Before filing the complaint with the commission, Kodak said it had entered into discussions with HTC and Apple in a bid to resolve the issue, but they did not reach a satisfactory agreement.
In addition to HTC and Apple, Kodak has named HTC America Inc, a unit of HTC Corp, and Houston-based Exedea Inc as respondents in the complaint.
According to the ITC, Kodak has asked the commission to bar imports and sales of related products from the named firms in the US market, with the 131-year-old photo giant accusing the respondents of violating Section 337 of the US Tariff Act of 1930.
The ITC’s chief administrative law judge will assign the case to one of the commission’s six administrative law judges, who will hold an evidentiary hearing and make an initial determination, subject to a review by the commission.
The commission said it would set a target date for completing the investigation within 45 days after the launch of the probe.
If the commission finds any violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act, it will issue remedial orders that will be effective immediately and become final in 60 days unless the US Trade Representative expresses disapproval.
The most severe punishment for the violators will be a ban on imports and sales of related products in the US market.
However, the ITC emphasized it has not made any decision on the merits of the case despite the vote to launch the probe.