Apple and HTC have been going at it since early this year over claims that Apple has made about HTC’s violation of its patents. Now, the International Trade Comission has said that it will begin investigating HTC’s similar claims against Apple that it initially filed last month.

The interesting bit here is that this suit has only been gaining steam since HTC’s Android partner Google basically gifted it some patents that it could use to bolster its defenses against Apple. This was most likely in a response to the Apple case against HTC not going so well.

In fact, an ITC judge recently ruled that HTC was in violation of two of Apple’s patents. One of those patents, 6,343,263, for a ‘realtime API’ isn’t just a component of HTC’s devices, it’s a core component of Android and if a ruling was made to stick against it, it could affect the entire Android ecosystem, not just HTC. In fact, a recent document that has come to light in the HTC case indicates that Andy Rubin of Google may have even worked on the API team at Apple at the time that they were filing for the patent.

This is just the initial step in what will be an 18-month process if it ever even makes it to a final judgement. But the consequences are fairly steep for Apple if HTC succeeds. They would most likely be able to obtain a judgement by the ITC that could restrict or halt the import of Apple devices into the US from where they are manufactured in China.

HTC recently completed acquisitions of S3 Graphics and Dashwire, in order to boost its patent portfolio against Apple. HTC had previously filed suit against Apple with the ITC, seeking an import ban on Apple’s devices in response to an earlier suit by Apple in regards to iPhone-related patents.

Apple then filed for an import ban on HTC’s devicesin retaliation. HTC said that it was “disappointed at Apple’s constant attempts at litigations instead of competing fairly in the market.”