Apple has asked the US International Trades Commission to ban imports of Nokia handsets, in retaliation to the Finnish phone manufacturer stepping up its patent battle with Apple.

Apple's request is the second filed to the International Trade Commission. Nokia filed a complaint last month saying virtually every Apple device violated seven patents held by Nokia.

The smartphone patent debacle started in October when Nokia sued Apple for allegedly infringing on ten of Nokia's technology patents with the iPhone.

Apple responded in December by countersuing Nokia, saying it was allegedly infringing on as many as 13 Apple patents.

Nokia spokesperson Mark Durrant responded to Bloomberg about Apple's latest request, saying:  "Nokia will study the complaint when it is received and continue to defend itself vigorously".

"However this does not alter the fact that Apple has failed to agree appropriate terms for using Nokia technology and has been seeking a free ride on Nokia's innovation since it shipped the first iPhone in 2007."

Nokia, the largest maker of mobile phones globally, has been losing market share over the past year as the popularity of the iPhone skyrocketed.

Nokia would seem to be seeking compensation from the courtroom, a tactic that is being used more frequently in the tech industry.

The ITC sees numerous patent dispute cases a year. Earlier this month the ITC agreed to investigate a patent claim from Prism Technologies filed against RIM over a method for controlling access to electronic data using an authentication server

Kodak also filed a claim against RIM and Apple alleging iPhones and BlackBerrys with cameras infringe on a Kodak patent. that allows image previews.

An ITC investigation is a lengthy process, but it's possible that Apple and Nokia might reach some sort of settlement as suits continue to escalate between the two companies.

LG and Kodak settled an ITC dispute out of court in December with a cross-licensing agreement. Nokia and Apple could do the same.

It's understandable that Nokia would seek compensation if it believes Apple is infringing on their patents.

The company claims to have invested almost $90m over 20 years to develop cell phone technology.

PC World

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See also: Apple files patent for thinner touchscreen