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Apple Inc. (AAPL) Back in ITC Inquiry Crosshairs

Apple Inc.Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) lawyers may now the administrative law judges of the U.S. International Trade Commission on a first name basis by now, what with all of the claims they have filed and answered regarding patent infringement and import an requests that have been submitted on behalf of and against the company, especially in recent years. Chalk up another appointment for counsel in front of the commission.

VirnetX, an internet security and tech company based in Nevada, filed a complaint with the ITC in September, claiming that several Apple  Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) devices infringe on its patents that revolve around a method of secure connection of two or more devices over a wireless network. The claim was targeting iPhone, iPad and Mac devices.  The ITC sent a statement Tuesday saying that it would investigate the claim, and that one of the ITC judges will be assigned to the case.  The general rule is that the ITC will make a final determination of the case within 45 days of starting the investigation. Once a judge is assigned, a hearing will be set to present evidence and a preliminary determination will be made. The final determination must be approved by the Commission.

VirnetX is seeking an import ban on several Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) products, according to the statement by the ITC. This is likely meant to encourage an out-of-court settlement, as VirnetX is already preparing for a patent-infringement suit against Apple Inc. (AAPL), which is scheduled to begin Oct. 31. VirnetX also mentioned in a press release that it has other suits pending against Cisco, Avaya and Siemens, with those expected to go to trial in the spring.

Chances are pretty good that a lot of these legal duels are priced into the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock, which has taken a hit ever since the iPhone 5 launch. It appears that investors like billionaire fund manager Leon Cooperman of Omega Advisors realize these proceedings seem to have no end in the short term, and likely may affect the bottom line numbers in the upcoming earnings reports for Q3 and Q4 of 2012 … and likely beyond.

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