The US International Trade Commission (USITC) launched an investigation into Nokia claims Apple smartphones and tablets infringe a range of the Finnish company’s patents.

The probe will assess if Apple broke rules covering the importation and sale of products in the US which infringe another company’s IP. Should the complaint be successful, Nokia wants the USITC to issue a “limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order” prohibiting the importation and sale of specific devices.

USITC’s investigation is part of a wide number of legal cases brought by Nokia in the US, Europe and Asia alleging Apple products infringed 40 patents covering a range of technologies relating to user interface, display, software, antenna, chipset and video coding.

The Commission will review evidence to form an initial determination in the case, with a final judgement expected within 45 days. The companies involved then have 60 days to comply with any decision, unless the US Trade Representative intervenes.

Apple’s patent problems
Nokia’s global action, launched in December, reignited an historic IP battle between the company and Apple and Nokia. The pair were last embroiled in a lengthy legal dispute between 2009 and 2011, which resulted in Nokia being awarded an undisclosed sum covering a licensing fee and ongoing royalty payments.

Announcing its latest bout of legal action, the company said Apple declined subsequent offers made to licence several Nokia patented technologies following the 2011 settlement.

In December Ilkka Rahnasto, Nokia’s head of Patent Business, said: “After several years of negotiations trying to reach agreement to cover Apple’s use of these patents, we are now taking action to defend our rights.”