* Lawsuits escalate legal battle
* HTC seeks to halt US sale of Mac, iPad, iPod, iPhone
* Apple says competitors should not steal technology (Adds Apple comment, closing stock price)
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Smartphone maker HTC Corp (2498.TW) sued Apple Inc (AAPL.O), seeking to halt U.S. imports and sales of Macintosh computers, iPads, iPods, iPhones and other devices because of alleged patent infringements.
HTC said it filed complaints with the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court in Delaware.
The latter alleged infringements of three patents obtained in 2008 and 2010, and which relate to Wi-Fi capability and other functions. It seeks compensatory damages as well as triple damages for willful infringement.
Tuesday’s complaints escalate the legal battle between the companies. Apple has accused HTC of patent infringement through its smartphones, and filed several patent lawsuits against the Taiwan-based company in Delaware in the last two years.
Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet repeated a statement that Chief Executive Steve Jobs used on March 2, 2010 when Apple sued HTC for allegedly infringing 20 patents: “Competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”
HTC, meanwhile, said it has now brought three cases against Apple before the ITC.
“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 General Counsel Grace Lei said in a statement.
HTC filed its complaints one day after Google Inc (GOOG.O) agreed to pay $12.5 billion in cash for Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc (MMI.N) to gain access to thousands of patents and help protect its fast-growing Android mobile operating system.
That merger, if completed, could put pressure on HTC and other Android licensees, which face the risk of promoting a direct rival. [ID:nN1E77E1L6]
Google last year developed the Nexus phone with HTC, but sales proved disappointing. [ID:nL3E71LD]
HTC is based in Taoyuan City, Taiwan, and Apple in Cupertino, California.
Apple shares closed down $2.93, or 0.8 percent, at $380.48 on the Nasdaq. HTC shares closed unchanged at NT$827 in Taiwan.
The Delaware case is HTC Corp v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware, No. 11-00715. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew, Poornima Gupta and Tom Hals. Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Robert MacMillan, Dave Zimmerman)