The International Trade Commission said on Friday it will revisit in part a decision by an ITC administrative law judge, who had found no violation by Apple of four HTC patents that include technologies for power management and phone dialing.
The complaint - one of several the two companies have filed against each other - is a proxy for the larger fight for market share between Google Inc's Android cellphones and tablets, many of which HTC makes, and Apple's products.
HTC had filed a complaint in May 2010, accusing Apple of infringing its patents. It asked the ITC to bar the importation of Apple's iPods, iPhones and iPads.
The ITC said on Friday it will review the initial findings with respect to one of the four patents.
Apple and Samsung, which also makes Android products, are locked in similar court fights on at least three continents.
An Apple spokeswoman reiterated a previous company statement, saying competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.
An HTC representative could not be immediately reached.
The ITC is scheduled to rule on a related case on Monday: Apple's complaint accusing HTC of infringing two of its patents. Apple has filed a parallel lawsuit against HTC in a court in the U.S. District Court in Delaware.
The ITC, a U.S. trade panel that investigates patent infringement involving imported goods, is a popular venue for patent lawsuits because it can bar the importation of infringing products.
Worldwide, Android-based smartphones have outpaced iPhones, rising from a tiny portion of the global market in 2009 to 42 percent this year, according to Gartner Inc analysts.
Samsung is the largest maker of smartphones globally and is showing phenomenal growth, according to analysts at International Data Corporation. Apple is second, a shrinking Nokia is third and a fast-growing HTC is fourth.
Apple and Samsung, which also makes Android smartphones, are locked in similar court fights on four continents. On December 2, a U.S. court declined to halt U.S. sales of Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets while a patent infringement trial goes forward.
Microsoft and Motorola also have filed smartphone related patent lawsuits against each other.
The case is at the International Trade Commission, No. 337-721.
(Reporting by Poornima Gupta in San Francisco and Diane Bartz in Washington DC; Editing by Gary Hill)