The U.S. International Trade Commission announced today that its members have voted to begin an investigation on HTC's behalf into whether Apple infringes on HTC's intellectual property with its mobile phones, tablets, and computers.
HTC first filed its complaint, the latest against the Cupertino, Calif.-based consumer electronics giant, last month, saying Apple was infringing on two of its patents. The Taiwanese handset manufacturer seeks to halt the importation of Apple products into the U.S., as well as compensatory damages, and three times the normal damages for willful infringement.
As the ITC noted in a press release posted to its site today about the investigation, the case still needs to be assigned to an administrative law judge, which is followed by a hearing. That's followed by the initial determination, which can be reviewed by the ITC's commission ahead of the final determination.
"HTC will continue to protect its patented inventions against infringement from Apple until such infringement stops," a company representative said in a statement. "We believe that we have an obligation to protect our business, our industry partners, and our customers, who love using our products."
Apple did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
This latest complaint adds to several others between the rival technology companies. In July, an ITC administrative law judge said HTC infringed on two of 10 patents Apple had accused the company of infringing in a complaint from early 2010. That case awaits a final determination. There's also a complaint filed against HTC by Apple in July, accusing the company of infringing on five of its patents with its smartphones and tablet running Google's Android OS.
The legal battle is of special interest, given the inclusion of Android devices that have been targeted in separate lawsuits, as well as ITC complaints targeting Android partners Samsung Electronics and Motorola Mobility, which is being sold to Android maker Google.
News of the investigation was reported by TechCrunch earlier today.
CNET's Roger Cheng contributed to this report.
Updated at 4:18 p.m. PT with comment from HTC.