The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has opened an investigation into Apple Inc. (AAPL) over allegations that many of the iPhone maker’s best-selling devices feature patented technology stolen from another company.

The federal agency said in a statement on Tuesday that its investigation will span various Apple products, including certain Apple Mac computers, iPhones, iPads, iPods and Apple TVs. The USITC agreed to launch the probe after receiving a joint complaint from Aqua Connect Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Strategic Technology Partners.

According to, the complaint hinges on Apple’s AirPlay, technology that enables audio and video to be streamed wirelessly across different Apple devices. Aqua Connect claimed that it supplied Apple with the software that allows Macs to be accessed remotely, until the Cupertino, California-based company ended the relationship six years ago in early 2011.

The complainant said Apple cut ties with it "abruptly and without explanation" and then, months later, launched its Lion operating system that featured a similar screen-sharing tool. Aqua Connect believes that tool is based on its intellectual property. The company also alleged that several other Apple tools violated its patents, including the screen-mirroring option within AirPlay. 

Aqua Connect and Strategic Technology Partners have asked the USITC to issue a limited exclusion and cease and desist order against the infringed products, according to the statement from the federal agency. The USITC added that it will now assign the case to one of its judges to determine whether Apple violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930.

The agency added that it will set a target date for completing the investigation within 45 days.

Apple is no stranger to patent infringement claims. Earlier this month the Cupertino, California-based company was accused of using an Israeli startup’s patented smartphone camera technology in two iPhone models without authorization. (See also: Apple Sued for Camera Patent Infringement.)

Meanwhile, during the summer, Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) filed a lawsuit against Apple seeking to ban imports and sales of iPhones. (See also: Apple's Hardware Partnership With Qualcomm Is Unraveling.)

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