APPLE is suing phone rival HTC, claiming it has broken patents related to the iPhone.
Taiwan-based HTC was the first company to manufacture a mobile based on Google’s Android operating system, which has emerged as a significant competitor for the iPhone.
It also makes the Nexus One phone that Google is selling directly to users.
Apple said HTC infringed 20 of its patents covering aspects of the iPhone’s user interface and hardware.
Chief executive Steve Jobs said: “We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it.”
The move is the latest scrap over ownership of the underlying technology for smartphones – handsets that play video and music, take pictures and send e-mail – which are increasing in popularity.
Eastman Kodak in January filed a complaint with the ITC, saying Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry camera phones infringe the photography company’s patents.