The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) launched on Thursday a Section 337 probe into four companies based in China, Belgium and the United States for patent infringement.
The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Tyco Fire & Security GmbH of Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland and its two American subsidiaries in Florida on Dec. 11, 2013, the USITC said in a statement.
China's Ningbo Signatronic Technologies, Belgium's All-Tag and another two U.S. firms are involved in the probe.
The complainant accused these companies of infringing its patents related to acousto-magnetic electronic article surveillance systems, which are used in retail stores to deter the theft of merchandise, said the federal bipartisan panel.
Within 45 days the USITC will set a target date for completing the investigation. Should the complaint be approved, the panel will issue remedial orders, such as a ban on importation of accused products.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has repeatedly urged Washington to abide by its commitment against trade protectionism and help maintain a free, open and just international trade environment.
Section 337 investigations conducted by the USITC usually involve claims concerning intellectual property rights, including patent and trademark infringement allegations on imported goods