USA trade officials announced Tuesday they will investigate claims made by chipmaker Qualcomm that Apple infringed on patents with components in its smartphones.
Last month, Qualcomm filed suit alleging that Apple was now infringing on six patents that helped improve battery life on some iPhone models.
Specifically, the federal agency will probe whether the importation of the iPhone 7, along with various device components like baseband processor modems, violates the Tariff Act of 1930.
While there's no specific timing, the ITC said it would set a target date to complete the investigation within 45 days after its start.
As the ITC considered whether to take up the case, a group representing Alphabet Inc's Google, Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc sided last month with Apple, saying Qualcomm's request to bar the import of some iPhones would hurt consumers. However, the commission did not say if it was acting on that request, only that it had received it.
Qualcomm has not alleged that Intel chips violate its patents but claims that the way Apple implements them in the iPhone does.
Earlier this year, Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion, alleging that the company was collecting royalties on patents that it had "nothing to do with".
The admission of an investigation from USITC is still good news for Qualcomm which has been suffering as the legal spat with Apple dramatically affects its bottom line. The investigation will examine whether Apple has engaged in unfair trade practices by importing and selling certain mobile electronic devices, including iPhones and iPads that infringe one or more claims of six Qualcomm patents. "We look forward to the ITC's expeditious investigation of Apple's ongoing infringement of our intellectual property and the accelerated relief that the Commission can provide".
Shares of both Qualcomm and Apple were higher during afternoon trading on Tuesday.