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Thursday, April 01, 2010, 11:40 am PT (02:40 pm ET)

ITC agrees to investigate Apple's patent suit against HTC

The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to review Apple's allegations of patent violations from rival handset maker HTC, the domestic trade agency announced this week.

The ITC revealed on Wednesday that voted to formally begin an investigation of "certain personal data and mobile communication devices and related software." Within 45 days of the start of the investigation, the ITC will set a target date for its completion.

It was in early March when Apple filed its complaint against HTC, suing the Taiwanese smartphone maker over the alleged infringement of 20 patents related to the iPHone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. Among the phones cited in Apple's complaint are two of the most prominent based on Google's Android mobile operating system: the Nexus One and myTouch 3G.

HTC responded to the suit last week by saying it has no plans to back down. Google, the creator of the Android mobile operating system that is at the center of the patent infringement suit, has also said it will stand by its partners, including HTC.

That the ITC is taking up Apple's complaint should come as no surprise — the commission looks into most high-profile suits that are filed. In fact, the commission currently has a number of complaints centered around the Cupertino, Calif., company, filed both by Apple and against Apple.

The most recent was revealed this week, when Elan Microelectronics asked the commission to ban the import and sale of Apple products over an alleged violation of a multi-touch patent owned by the company. Elan has accused Apple of "knowingly and deliberately" using the company's technology. The ITC has not yet decided whether to pursue the claims made by Elan.

Apple has also sued Nokia, and is also being sued by the Finnish handset maker. The ITC has agreed to look into both companies' complaints of patent infringement.

The ITC has also 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.