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Apple-HTC case hits another delay at the ITC

HTC says the U.S. International Trade Commission now won't make its ruling until Monday in a case pitting key players in the smartphone market.

HTC will be forced to wait a bit longer to hear what the U.S. International Trade Commission has to say about its case with Apple.

The handset maker said Wednesday that the ITC has delayed handing down its ruling until Monday. Today's court date was set after the ITC delayed a December 6 ruling. The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the delay.

Apple first filed suit against HTC in March 2010, alleging the company copied technologies found in the iPhone. HTC quickly followed that up with its own lawsuit, claiming Apple violates its own patents.

There is a lot riding on the decision. Earlier this year, an ITC administrative law judge found HTC in violation of two Apple patents, and sent the ruling off to the ITC's six-member panel to make the final call. If Apple wins its case, the ITC could ban HTC products from being imported to the U.S. If the court orders in favor of HTC, however, the company will be free and clear to sell its products in the U.S.

That said, not all will be lost if HTC does, in fact, lose the case. As Foss Patents' Florian Mueller told CNET earlier this month, if HTC does lose, the company will likely come up with a workaround to keep its products coming into the U.S.

"It's a safe guess that whatever the ruling is, HTC and Google will jointly claim they have a workaround in place," Mueller said. "What remains to be seen is what price they have to pay for it in terms of product quality and technical compatibility."

But regardless of what the ITC rules next week, it doesn't mean the battle is over. HTC launched a fresh lawsuit against Apple in September, arguing the iPhone maker violates patents it recently acquired from Google. There's currently no telling how that might eventually play into the drawn-out war between the companies.