HTC seeks Apple import ban

At this rate, it soon won’t be possible to buy a cellphone at all, and we’ll all be reduced to tin cans and string.

The latest move in what’s become a cats-cradle of tangled patent lawsuits is an attempt by HTC to block US imports of Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Mac.

HTC has filed lawsuits in Delaware and with the International Trade Commission aiming to ban imports of the Apple devices. The company’s already had some success with the ITC, which last month ruled that Apple’s computers – though not its mobile devices – infringed HTC patents.

“We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones,” says Grace Lei, HTC general counsel.

“This is the third case before the ITC in which Apple is infringing our intellectual property.  Apple needs to stop its infringement of our patented inventions in its products.”

The new lawsuits cover patents 7,417,944, and 7,672,219 and 7,765,414. These deal with Wifi capability that allows users to wirelessly network multiple devices at home, at work, or in public, and processor communication technology allowing a PDA and a cellular phone to be integrated into a single device.

Apple’s already embroiled in a series of patent battles, having filed cases itself against Samsung and Motorola Mobility, now being acquired by Google, as well as against HTC itself.

HTC’s already been found to have infringed two Apple patents – which could lead to an import ban on some HTC phones – and Apple is gunning for more.

The ITC is due to release its findings on the earlier HTC case against Apple in September; this latest investigation could take 18 months.

Goodness only knows how the patent battles will expand once Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility – along with its 17,000 patents – is completed.