Apple faced a potential import ban on some of its most popular hardware after the US International Trade Commission (ITC) began investigating allegations the company infringed several patents held by Japanese electronics company Maxell.

At issue are five technology patents Maxell claimed Apple employed for Wi-Fi assist; TouchID; AirPlay; camera white balance effects; and a picture and video search feature.

It argued its patents were used in a range of Apple devices, including recent iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and Macbook laptops.

AppleInsider reported Maxell filed a lawsuit on 16 July accusing Apple of infringing the patents. It lodged a complaint with the ITC a day later, asking the regulator to halt imports of the infringing devices, and issue a cease and desist order against Apple.

The ITC emphasised it had “not yet made any decision on the merits of the case”. It set a target to conclude proceedings “at the earliest practicable time”.

In 2019, Apple struck a deal to end a long-running patent dispute with Qualcomm shortly after an ITC judge recommended an import ban on some iPhone models.