Apple has reportedly alleged that Samsung's Galaxy models copy the trade dress of the iPhone and iPad as well as specific design patents and trademarks covering certain icons.
A US government web site defines trade dress as "The totality of elements in which a product or service is packaged or presented, such as the shape and appearance of a product or container, or the cover of a book or magazine. These elements combine to create a visual image presented to customers and are capable of acquiring exclusive legal rights as a type of trademark or identifying symbol of origin."
The overall appearance of some of Samsung's devices certainly bear strong resemblance to Apple products in the iPhone and iPad families.
Some commentators are making much of the fact that Samsung is a major component supplier to Apple, and are suggesting that the legal action is as much about getting a better deal from Samsung as it is to prevent the sale of what Apple sees as 'copycat' products.
Legal action isn't all going Apple's way at present - see page 2.
The ITC is able to prohibit the import of products that are held to infringe patents or trademarks. Given that most electronic devices are now manufactured outside the US, this tactic can be used by companies based outside the US against American businesses.
Indeed, HTC has taken a complaint against Apple to the ITC. The hearing is expected to begin next month.