Details have been released about a suit Apple, Inc. (AAPL) filed against fellow gadget maker Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (SEO:005930) in South Korea’s Seoul Central District Court. The suit was filed on Wednesday, June 22 and claims that the best-selling Samsung Galaxy S copies the design of the iPhone 3G.
The lawsuit comes after comments by company officials who accused the gadget maker of “slavishly” imitating the iPhone.
Samsung will definitely have the home court advantage in the case. It is one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates, accounting for about a fifth of the nation’s exports. Samsung Electronics, one of the Group’s many subsidiaries, is the world’s largest electronics company by sales. It’s expected to soon pass Finland’s Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) to become the world’s largest phonemaker.
The suit follows an April 15 complaint filed in U.S. federal court against Samsung. The complaint alleges that the Galaxy family of devices that include the Galaxy S smartphone models and Galaxy Tab tablet models violate a number of Apple patents.
Among them, Apple says the devices infringe on its touch screen user gestures patents, including selecting, scrolling, pinching and zooming. It also claims to have invented a “flat black face”, which is among the three design patents Samsung is accused of violating.
Samsung had petitioned the court to force Apple to turn over prototypes of its future iPads and iPhones to show differences or similarities between the two companies designs. Samsung lost that motion on June 22 (Wednesday).
Samsung has filed four counter-suits against Apple in Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo, Japan, Mannheim, Germany and the U.S., claiming Apple violate ten of its patents.
Ironically the pair were formerly quite close. In fact Samsung Electronics has designed Apple’s last several iPhone/iPad processors, with the help of contractors like Intrinsity. Samsung was also among the companies that was rumored to be a possible partner for Apple’s potential upcoming LCD television display launch. Apple also uses Samsung memory chips in several of its devices.
The pairs’ relationship, much like that of Apple and Google Inc. (GOOG), deteriorated as both companies accelerated their smartphone and tablet plans. Currently Samsung is beating Apple in phone sales, though some of its phones are traditional handsets. Overall Google’s Android OS hardware partners — like Samsung — are outselling the iPhone over two-to-one, according to recent studies.
As it can’t outsell Android, Apple appears resigned to try to out-sue the rival. The company’s efforts were dealt a setback when a judge in another case — a suit against Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) over its “Appstore for Android” — said that she was preparing to dismiss a major motion in that case.
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