Apple Inc won the first round in a complex patent infringement battle with Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp on Friday, when a US trade panel ruled that the later had infringed on two of Apple's patents.
HTC has vowed to fight back by appealing to the full commission of the US-based International Trade Commission (ITC). Apple had complained to the ITC in March 2010, accusing HTC of infringing 10 patents in its Android-powered handsets.
A judge of the ITC ruled that HTC had infringed on two of the patents, but a full commission has to now decide on the matter. Apple, the maker of iconic products including the iPhone and the iPad, has taken several global handset manufacturers to court for allegedly infringing on its patent.
It has filed a complaint against South Korean major Samsung Electronics - which also uses Google's Android operating system on its smartphones - and also against Nokia, but the two companies later worked out a settlement. The sale of Android-based smartphones have shot up recently around the world, though Apple plans to launch a new version of its iPhone later this year.
While HTC has filed a complaint, seeking a probe into possible software patent abuse by Apple, the US firm has filed separate complaints against the Taiwanese manufacturer for alleged violation of iPad and iPhone patents. Apple has also filed a suit against HTC in the US District Court in Delaware.
"We are highly confident we have a strong case for the ITC appeals process and are fully prepared to defend ourselves using all means possible," Grace Lei, HTC's general counsel said in a statement, on Saturday. "We strongly believe we have alternate solutions in place for the issues raised by Apple. We look forward to resolving this case."
Earlire, the ITC had found Apple guilty of infringing on patents held by S3 Graphics, an HTC subsidiary. The Taiwanese handset maker also manufacturers cell phones for other international companies including Google's Nexus One.
If the single judge decision were to be upheld by the full commission of the ITC, it could lead to a ban on the import of HTC's Android-powered smartphones into the US. It could also affect sales of other Android-based smartphones in the US.