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ITC to review one patent in HTC complaint against Apple

The U.S. International Trade Commission revealed on Friday that it will reexamine the "no violation" ruling on just one of the four patents that HTC had accused Apple of infringing.

Reuters reported the commission's announcement, noting that the complaint has become a "proxy" for Apple's larger intellectual property spat with Google's Android operating system. ITC's decision to review just one of the patents in question can be seen as favorable news for Apple, since it puts to rest its competitor's claims on the other three patents.

When contacted for comment, an Apple spokeswoman simply echoed the company's earlier statement, saying "competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

A judge for the commission had ruled in October that Apple was not guilty of infringing HTC's four patents, which relate to power management and phone dialing. HTC's original complaint was filed against the iPhone, iPad and iPod product lines in May 2010 as a counter to Apple's lawsuit against the handset maker.

According to late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' biography, he took a personal interest in Apple's case against HTC last year because the Taiwanese handset maker had released a device that he felt stole his company's inventions. Jobs subsequently vowed to "destroy Android" and go "thermonuclear war" over the issue.

Friday's news comes as the final ruling on Apple's case against HTC is set to arrive next Monday. The decision was originally scheduled for this Wednesday, but it was pushed back for unspecified reasons. A judge ruled in July that HTC had infringed two of Apple's patents.

Both companies have several other outstanding complaints lodged against the other with the ITC. Apple filed another suit against HTC in July. In September, HTC filed its third lawsuit against Apple with the commission, this time using patents it had acquired from Google.

For its part, HTC has said it views Apple's complaints against it as little more than a "distraction." Chief Executive Peter Chou has remained optimistic that the suit will not affect HTC's business.

Executives at the company have also indicated interest in settling its dispute with Apple. Industry watchers believe that HTC's $300 million purchase of S3 Graphics earlier this year was an attempt by the company to gain leverage on Apple.

S3 Graphics had sued Apple over patents related to image compression, winning aninitial ITC ruling against Apple in July. But, the decision was overturned by the commission in November. HTC responded to the news by noting that it would conduct a "holistic re-evaluation" of its acquisition in light of the reversal.