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HTC countersues Apple, claims infringement of five patents


Taiwanese smartphone company HTC has responded to Apple's patent suit with a lawsuit of its own, accusing the iPhone maker of violating five patents.

HTC announced the countersuit Wednesday. It was filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission, and asks for the importation of the iPhone, iPad and iPod into America to be halted.

"As the innovator of the original Windows Mobile PocketPC Phone Edition in 2002 and the first Android smartphone in 2008, HTC believes the industry should be driven by healthy competition and innovation that offer consumers the best, most accessible mobile experiences possible," said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of North America, HTC Corporation. "We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones."

The company noted in a press release that the company has built a portfolio of "the world's most advanced smartphones" over the last decade. Currently, there are 12 HTC phones available for customers in the U.S., including the HTC EVO 4G for Sprint, the Droid Incredible for Verizon, and the HTC HD2 for T-Mobile. It did not mention the specific patents involved in the suit.

Apple first sued HTC in early March, accusing the Taiwanese company of infringing on 20 patents related to the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. In a statement, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said though competition is "healthy," competitors should not "steal" Apple's technology.

Though the suit was directed at HTC, the 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. The search giant came out in support of HTC, noting that it will "stand behind" partners who help to develop the Android operating system.

Last month, Microsoft and HTC revealed the two companies had struck a deal to license Microsoft's technology for use in HTC phones. The agreement, in which HTC will pay royalties to Microsoft, came about because officials with the Redmond, Wash., software giant believed Google's Android mobile operating system infringes on patented technology owned by Microsoft. Previously, a Microsoft official had publicly stated that Apple's suit against HTC was not necessarily bad, as it could help to sort out intellectual property issues in the mobile space.

In early April, the ITC announced it will investigate Apple's complaint against HTC, while the company has indicated it has no plans to back down.

The ITC has been very busy with Apple lawsuits lately. Last year, Finnish handset maker Nokia sued Apple, and the iPhone maker later countersued, with both companies accusing the other of patent violations. The ITC has also begun investigating claims made by Kodak against Apple, as well as a suit from Elan Microelectronics.