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Thursday, March 18, 2010, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Confident HTC says no plans to back down from Apple lawsuit

Apple rival HTC on Thursday issued its first official remarks on a lawsuit filed against it by the iPhone maker, saying it "disagrees" with the claims and is fully prepared to defend its reputation as one of the most innovative companies in the smartphone sector.

"HTC strongly advocates intellectual property protection and will continue to respect other innovators and their technologies as we have always done, but we will continue to embrace competition through our own innovation as a healthy way for consumers to get the best mobile experience possible,” HTC chief executive Peter Chou said in a statement. “From day one, HTC has focused on creating cutting-edge innovations that deliver unique value for people looking for a smartphone."

In a formal complained filed earlier this month with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in a U.S. District Court in Delaware, Apple accused HTC of treading on 20 of its patents related to the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. The patents cover everything from unlocking a handset with a finger gesture to power conservation techniques.

"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it," Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said in statement the same day the lawsuit was filed. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

Although Apple did not name Google in the suit, HTC is responsible for a number of high-profile phones based on the search giant's Android mobile operating system. In addition to the first Android phone, the G1, HTC is behind the recently released Nexus One, which features multi-touch technology similar to that offered by the iPhone. As such many observers have suggested Apple's actions were a carefully orchestrated, indirect attack on Google.

Defending its reputation, HTC as part of its statement Thursday noted that the GSMA recently awarded the HTC Hero as the “Best Phone of 2009.” It also rifled off a list of other claimed technology firsts, including the Windows PDA (1998), first Windows Phone (June 2002), first 3G CDMA EVDO smartphone (October 2005), first gesture-based smartphone (June 2007), first Google Android smartphone (October 2008), and first 4G WIMAX smartphone (November 2008).

“HTC has always taken a partnership-oriented, collaborative approach to business. This has led to long-standing strategic partnerships with the top software, Internet and wireless technology companies in the industry as well as the top U.S., European and Asian mobile operators,” said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of HTC America. “It is through these relationships that we have been able to deliver the world’s most diverse series of smartphones to an even more diverse group of people around the world, recognizing that customers have very different needs.”

In an interview with Reuters, Mackenzie added that HTC plans to issue a formal response to Apple's claims within a matter of weeks but declined to outline the measures his firm will implement in its defense.

Apple's lawsuit against HTC is the latest in a growing pool of legal complains filed with the ITC bearing the iPhone maker's name. In recent months the company has sued Nokia, and is also being counter-sued by the Finnish handset maker. The ITC has agreed to look into both companies' complaints of patent infringement.

The ITC has also recently begun investigating claims made by Kodak against Apple. The camera company has alleged that Apple is in violation of patents that relate to the previewing of images, and processing them at different resolutions.

For more on Apple's suit against HTC, see AppleInsider's previous segments covering the 20 individual patents at issues and list of HTC devices that are allegedly in violation of Apple's intellectual property.