Complaints to the ITC

Guardian of free trade and fair play kept busy

Cargo ship The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) is an independent federal agency tasked to ensure that foreign trade imports do not unfairly impact domestic industries. The Commission also adjudicates cases involving the alleged infringement of intellectual property rights. One of the ITCs key powers is the ability to hold goods at the port of entry while an investigation takes place. Its services have certainly been called upon regularly by players in our sector over last month or so.

Nokia have requested a ban on Apple imports, claiming infringement of seven key patents in virtually all of Apple’s small electronic devices. Nokia’s claim cites patents in the area of user interface, camera, antenna and power management tech. Nokia also

Motorola make much the same claim against RIM with five patents, user interface and power management again, with a side order of WiFi and app management. Moto claimed for seven patents in 2008, so at least the number is going down. RIM are expected to counter-complain.

It gets more complicated for the ITC, with Kodak (the photographic and imaging company) weighing in and filing actions against both Apple and RIM, a week after amicably closing a patent battle with Samsung. Lawyers say that Kodak has patents on previewing and processing colour images at different resolutions. Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975, to cries of D’oh! from Texas Instruments who had patented an electronic but analog camera in 1972. Sales of stand alone cameras have been hit by convergence with mobiles, so it’s understandable that Kodak about licences.