A US trade panel has turned down Apple's request to immediately ban some HTC smartphones from being imported into the United States because of accusations that they infringe on an Apple patent.

The International Trade Commission, which hears patent complaints concerning imported products, said on Monday that it would investigate Apple's allegations that HTC was shipping smartphones to the United States that infringe an Apple patent but would not issue an order banning the phones immediately.

The ITC said in December that some HTC smartphones infringed on an Apple patent for technology that allows users to click on phone numbers or other data in an email or other document to either dial directly or bring up more information.

The ITC issued an order banning the infringing devices from the US market, and HTC's shares fell in May when it said that US sales of two new smartphones, the HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE, would be affected by the dispute.

HTC said in June that its new models had been changed and no longer infringed on the patent, but Apple disagreed and accused HTC of violating the existing exclusion order. Apple asked the ITC to investigate, and to stop the smartphones at the US border.

The affected models include the HTC One X, Inspire 4G, Vivid and a long list of others.

HTC had a fairytale ride in 2010 and early 2011, when its shares more than tripled in 14 months and consumers snapped up its innovative phones with their distinctive large clock numerals. But it suffered an equally rapid fall from grace as its phones failed to keep up with Apple's iPhones and Samsung's Galaxy range.

It has also got caught up in a larger fight between Google Inc's Android operating system and Apple's iOS, which has easily spawned dozens of lawsuits.

Apple could not immediately be reached for a comment, and HTC declined to comment on the ITC decisions. - Reuters