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Dueling patent infringement lawsuits and trade complaints filed by Creative Technology and Apple Computer Inc. against each other with the U.S. International Trade Commission are keeping D.C. intellectual property lawyers busy. The ITC announced last week that it launched an investigation into Singapore-based Creative’s claims that Apple’s iPod digital-music player infringes on its patents. In a May 15 complaint the company asked the ITC to issue an order blocking the imports of iPods, which are mostly made in China. Mark Davis, a partner in the Washington office of McDermott, Will & Emery, and other McDermott lawyers represent Creative both in its ITC complaint and in a patent infringement lawsuit the company filed in a U.S. district court in San Francisco on May 15. Meanwhile, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has enlisted James Adduci of D.C.-based Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg to file its own complaint before the ITC claiming that Creative’s MP3 players violate its patents, and to defend it in the ITC’s investigation of Creative’s claims. Apple has also filed two patent infringement lawsuits against Creative in U.S. district courts in Wisconsin and Texas. Adduci says that Apple is waiting to see if the ITC will launch a probe into its claims, as it filed its complaint two weeks after Creative’s, but predicted the ITC would take up the case. Adduci says companies often file both ITC and district court actions for patent infringement because the ITC moves much faster, usually issuing a final decision within 15 months. A district court case can take up to three years to be resolved. Moreover, the ITC can order that the infringing company’s products be blocked at the border, whereas district courts award money damages and issue injunctions.
Alexia Garamfalvi can be contacted at [email protected].

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