Although unlikely to dampen the spirits surrounding Apple’s widely-expected launch of a Tablet device Wednesday, the International Trade Commission has formally launched an investigation into a rival’s allegations. Nokia, which has sued the Cupertino, Calif. company, alleging multiple patent infringements, said it was “pleased” by the news.
The ITC’s move comes after the Finnish cell phone giant in December requested the trade investigation, claiming Apple products infringed patents involving power management, antenna, user interface and camera technologies. The investigation could result in a ban on iPhones, Macs, iPods and other Apple products.
The ITC action, announced Monday, was met with a no comment from Apple when reporters asked the Peter Oppenheimer, the company’s chief financial officer. Apple has responded to earlier Nokia lawsuits, counter-suing the handset maker and saying it would “vigorously” defend itself against the allegations.
However, John Jackson, a CSS Insight analyst, told Reuters the movement on the complaint indicated a “clear tactical win” for Nokia. The company, which has held on to an overall lead in cell phone sales, has seen its market share slip as the iPhone makes inroads on once safe territory.
Although the ITC probe marks the beginning of an official investigation of Apple, it is unclear how long or how costly the outcome. Some believe the court fight could span three years. Nokia is asking Apple pay $1.4 billion.