The touchscreen capabilities of Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices are under legal attack from Elan Microelectronics, which alleges that Apple infringed its patents.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) has become involved in the US, with Elan claiming that the multitouch interface used on Apple's best-known gadgets is not properly licensed.
The ITC could stifle the sale of the iPad and the iPhone in the US if it finds in favour of Elan, which owns a patent covering touchscreens that can detect two or more fingers simultaneously.
Apple has enjoyed critical and commercial success as a result of its iPhone and iPad, both of which rely on an intuitive interface controlled by multitouch-sensitive displays.
Elan has taken a firm to court over similar patent infringements before and won and now it is claiming that Apple has "knowingly and deliberately" benefited from its patented technology.
If the ITC finds in favour of Elan, then the sale of the iPhone and iPad in the US could be banned and further restrictions on imported devices could be put in place.
Elan is hoping that Apple will be forced to licence its multitouch technology, generating huge sums for the Taiwanese firm.
Apple has been the target and instigator of multiple lawsuits relating to smartphone technology and it will now have to add the Elan action to its legal team's to-do list.