A U.S. trade panel will investigate allegations made by HTC that Apple infringes its technology, as HTC seeks to win a ban on the U.S. sale of iPhones, iPads and iPods.
The International Trade Commission said in a brief notice that it would take up the investigation, which has to do with "certain portable devices and related software."
HTC had said in its complaint filed with the ITC in May that Apple infringed five of its patents related to cellphone directory hardware and software and power-management technology in portable devices.
HTC has asked for a ban on import of Apple's products, most of which are made in countries such as China.
HTC's suit was expected after Apple filed patent infringement suits against the company in March both at the ITC and in the U.S. District Court in Delaware.
While Apple's lawsuit against HTC did not name Google as a defendant, it was seen as a strategic move against Google, whose mobile software powers handsets from Samsung Electronics, Motorola and others.
The ITC, a U.S. trade panel that investigates patent infringement involving imported goods, has become an increasingly popular venue for patent lawsuits because it can bar the importation of products that infringe patents.
Legal wrangling is commonplace in the smart phone market, an industry where many vendors work under cross-licensing agreements.
Handset makers Motorola and Research In Motion, which makes BlackBerrys, said Friday they have settled a patent complaint over mobile technology that Motorola brought to the U.S. International Trade Commission earlier this year.
The companies said RIM will give Motorola an upfront payment plus continuing royalties for the use of its mobile technology. They did not disclose specific financial terms.