The smartphone wars are not just about technology and marketing. It's also about the law.

Apple is locked in a fierce battle with rival smartphone makers as it vies to make its iPhone the king of the hill. Alongside features, the company is also taking companies to court.

HTC lost a preliminary ruling from the International Trade Commission after rival Apple filed suit against it, seeking an halt to the import of its products into the US.

Apple's injunction is a result of what it considers clear violations of its intellectual property in technologies used in the HTC smartphones, and Flyer tablet computer.

The Taiwanese company said late Friday that the ITC ruled that the company infringed two of 10 Apple patents originally asserted in the case.

We will vigorously fight these two remaining patents through an appeal before the ITC commissioners who make the final decision, the company said, noting it has alternate solutions in place to work around the patents.

The ITC refused to make the case public however, as the preliminary ruling is still subject to the review of the six-member commission.

The patents involve data-detection technology used in e-mail and text messages, while another related to a data-transmission.

Last Friday Apple said that HTC was infringing on groundbreaking that Apple developed for its iPod, iPhone and iPad products.

The complaint, filed on July 8, asks the commission to conduct an investigation under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, regarding certain portable electronic devices and related software, according to a notice on the ITC website.

HTC is dismayed at Apple's constant attempts at litigations instead of competing fairly in the market, said HTC general counsel Grace Lei in a statement last week.

HTC strongly denies all infringement claims raised by Apple in the past and present and reiterates our determination and commitment to protect our intellectual property rights, she said.

Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 prohibits unfair import competition, which may threaten a U.S. industry, preventing its establishment or trade in the U.S. It also prevents the importation of things that infringe on U.S. patents and trademarks.

The U.S. International Trade Commission can issue cease and desist or exclusion orders to those found in violation.

The move comes more than a year after Apple filed suit against HTC, alleging 20 instances of patent infringement, all dealing with various elements of the iPhone.

We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it, Steve Jobs said at the time.

We've decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.

In the current case the judge is expected to make a final decision on

December 6.

This suit marks the latest in Apple's battle to fend off competitors with legal tactics.

About two months ago, Apple sued Samsung for copying the look and feel of its iPhone and iPad with its Galaxy S line of smartphones and tablets.

Samsung countersued, but in late June, took its fight to the ITC.