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Friday, July 15, 2011, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

ITC rules HTC violated two of Apple's iPhone-related patents

The U.S. International Trade Commission made an initial ruling on Friday that HTC's handsets illegally violate two patented inventions found in Apple's iPhone.

The initial decision came from a judge at the ITC, who found, according to CNet, that HTC violated two of the 10 patents Apple had accused the company of violating in a complaint filed in March. HTC has already said it will appeal the decision.

"HTC will vigorously defend these two remaining patents through an appeal before the ITC commissioners who make the final decision," Grace Lei, general counsel for HTC, reportedly said. "This is only one step of many in these legal proceedings."

Cases with the ITC are ruled on by a judge. Those findings are then subject to review by the full commission.

The decision comes just days after Apple filed another complaint with the ITC, asking it to block the import of HTC handsets based on alleged violation of five new patents. That prompted HTC to publicly fire back on Tuesday, accusing Apple of resorting to legal tactics rather than "competing fairly in the market."

But Friday's initial ruling is part of an earlier lawsuit, filed by Apple in March of 2010.

In that original complaint, Apple initially accused the Taiwanese company of infringing on 20 patents related to the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. In a statement, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said though market competition is "healthy," competitors should not "steal" Apple's technology.

Apple's complaint specifically targeted a number of phones that run Google's Android mobile operating system, leading many to believe the real purpose of the complaint was to serve as a warning shot toward Google. For its part, HTC fired back with its own lawsuit, accusing Apple of infringing on five patents.