A federal regulator announced an investigation into Apple on Tuesday over claims that elements of the tech giant’s products violate another company’s patents, Reuters reported.
The U.S. International Trade Commission launched the probe after a software company called Aqua Connect and one of its subsidiaries filed a complaint last month.
The agency, which presides over trade in and out of the United States, has the power to block imports of Apple’s products if it decides the company is breaking the law.
Aqua Connect’s case hinges on Apple’s AirPlay technology — the feature that allows audio and video to be streamed across different Apple devices. Aqua Connect sells software that allows Macs to be accessed remotely, and it claims Apple ripped it off after ending its working relationship with the company six years ago.
Aqua Connect says that Apple previously “worked closely” with it on development and sales before cutting ties “abruptly and without explanation” in early 2011. Months later, Apple launched its Lion operating system with a screen-sharing tool built in. Aqua Connect claims that feature was based on its intellectual property.
The company also alleges that a number of Apple’s related tools also violate these terms, including the screen-mirroring option within AirPlay.
Perhaps because the complaint centers on Apple’s overarching platform, the ITC’s investigation spans various Apple products, including certain Apple Mac computers, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Apple TVs, according to Reuters.
As the richest and most prominent computer company in the world, Apple frequently faces patent infringement claims, and, more often than not, it’s found to be in the clear. Still, it remains to be seen how serious these latest allegations are.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.