Apple's patent dispute with HTC reached a new level today with word that imports of HTC phones are being delayed by U.S. Customs officials.
"The U.S. availability of the HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE has been delayed due to a standard U.S. Customs review of shipments that is required after an ITC exclusion order," HTC said in a statement. "We believe we are in compliance with the ruling and HTC is working closely with Customs to secure approval."
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency declined to comment, citing privacy and trade secrets laws.
CNET has also contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we hear more.
HTC was dealt a setback in December when the International Trade Commission, a federal agency with the power to enforce bans on products shipping to the U.S., ruled that HTC infringed on Apple's patent for data detection. The process allows a mobile device to recognize items like e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and addresses in text and automatically move them to a calendar, dialer, or mapping application.
The quasi-judicial body said in its ruling that it would impose an import ban on some of HTC's products if the feature wasn't removed by April 19, 2012. Immediately after that ruling, HTC announced it would soon remove the feature from "all of our phones."
Apple filed a complaint against HTC in March 2010, saying the Taiwan-based company violated 10 of its patents. In a preliminary ruling last June, an ITC administrative law judge found only 2 violations. December's ruling narrowed the violation to 1 of the original 10 patents.
The powerful HTC One X on AT&T
Updated at 7:40 p.m. PT with HTC comment and May 16 at 9:50 a.m. PT with Customs response.