Apple Inc. sued phone maker HTC Corp. on Tuesday, alleging the phone HTC makes for Google Inc. violates numerous patents on Apple's iPhone.

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Mario Queiroz, vice-president of product management for Google, holds up the Nexus One smartphone running on the Google Android platform. ((Robert Galbraith/Reuters))

"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement Tuesday. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

Taiwan-based HTC is the manufacturer of the Nexus One phone, the so-called "Google phone" that the search giant launched to much fanfare in January. But HTC also makes several of its own branded phones that operate on Google's Android operating system.

The Nexus One was the search leader's first major mobile play, a bid to gain more control over how people surf the web while on the go.

It was also the latest in a long line of phones to take direct aim at toppling the dominant iPhone, which has quickly become one of the most popular smartphones in the world. More than 40 million iPhones have been sold since the device's 2007 launch.

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A customer peruses iPhones on display in Korea. The Apple device is sold in more than 90 countries globally.

In a filing in a Delaware court, Apple alleged that numerous HTC phones — including the Nexus One, the G-1 and the myTouch 3G — are using patent-protected technologies owned by Apple without having a licence for them.

Apple is seeking unspecified damages and court orders to block U.S. sales of HTC's Android phones and other products that Apple says violate its patents.

The complaints were filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission, which has the power to block imports of products and parts made with contested technology.

Patent lawsuits commonplace

HTC spokeswoman Linda Mills told The Associated Press the company only learned of the lawsuits on Tuesday through media reports and hasn't had time to review Apple's claims.

"HTC values patent rights and their enforcement but is also committed to defending its own technology innovations," Mills said.

Patent lawsuits are commonplace in the competitive technology sector. Indeed, Apple itself faces litigation over the iPhone and other products from the Finnish cellphone maker Nokia Corp., which claims that Apple is using patented technology that helps cut manufacturing costs, shrink the size of consumer gadgets and preserve battery life. Apple responded to Nokia's complaint by filing a countersuit.

Motorola Inc. and Eastman Kodak Co. also have outstanding patent claims against BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Inc. Kodak also has separate patent claims against RIM and Apple over camera technology in iPhones and BlackBerrys.

With files from The Associated Press