By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
May 12, 2010

Asks the U.S. to halt the importation and sale of all iPhones, iPads and iPods

Making its first formal response to a pair of Apple patent infringement suits, Taiwan’s HTC Corporation filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission on Wednesday charging Apple (AAPL) with violating five of its patents.

“As the innovator of the original Windows Mobile PocketPC Phone Edition in 2002 and the first Android smartphone in 2008, HTC believes the industry should be driven by healthy competition and innovation that offer consumers the best, most accessible mobile experiences possible,” said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of North America, HTC Corporation, in a prepared statement. “We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones.”

HTC has not said publicly which of its patents it believes Apple has violated. The complaint is its answer to two suits Apple filed in March. In those suits, Apple claimed that HTC had infringed on 20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.

The action in March was the first time in memory that Apple had initiated, rather than respond to, patent suits, and it was accompanied by an unusually harsh statement from Steve Jobs:

“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it,” Jobs said. “We’ve decided to do something about it.”

It was widely assumed at the time that Apple’s real target was Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system, not HTC’s phones.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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