U.S. International Trade Commission has launched a probe into whether iPods infringe on a patent owned by Creative.
The ITC is an independent federal agency that reviews patent disputes for possible infringement and unfair trade practices. The commission's decision to review the matter follows two lawsuits filed last month by Singapore-based Creative and its U.S. subsidiary, Creative Labs.
Creative, maker of the rival Zen portable digital media player, alleges that Apple's iPod infringed on its user interface patent for its Zen and Nomad digital media players.
Creative alleges that Apple's iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Mini infringe on Creative's patents and is seeking a permanent cease-and-desist order.
The commission will refer the matter to an administrative law judge, who will make an initial determination about whether a violation occurred. The ITC will then review that decision. Typically, the agency issues a ruling 12 to 15 months after an investigation is instituted.
Apple was not immediately available for comment.