HTC has been dealt a setback in its patent fight against Apple at the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The ITC handed down an initial ruling yesterday which found that Apple had not violated four of HTC's patents on technology used in mobile devices and portable electronics.

The ruling is not final. Two more hearings on the case are slated for this month, and HTC could ask for a review of the decision.

A final ruling is expected to come down in February.

HTC could not be immediately reached for comment, but told the Wall Street Journal that the initial determination was "only one step of many" and it remained confident of its legal standing.

HTC filed the complaint last year, claiming Apple was violating its patents. HTC asked the federal trade regulator to ban Apple from importing key products including the iPhone, a standard step in cases before the ITC.

The two electronics giants have multiple patent infringement cases still pending before the ITC and other courts.