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Samsung files countersuits against Apple

Company launches 10 patent suits in Korea, Japan and Germany


Samsung Electronics said Friday it has filed countersuits against Apple Inc. over patent rights in courts located in Korea, Japan and Germany.

The world’s second-largest mobile phone manufacturer said Apple’s iPhone and iPad violated 10 of the company’s patents, leading it to file a complaint with the Seoul Central District Court over alleged infringement of five patents that focused on communications technologies. It also filed a suit with a court in Tokyo, Japan, over two patent infringements and another in Mannheim, Germany, for three patent violations.

“Samsung is responding actively to the legal action taken against us in order to protect our intellectual property and to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business,” said a Samsung official.
Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Gio smartphones (Samsung Electronics)
Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Gio smartphones (Samsung Electronics)

The legal battle started only a day after Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee told reporters Thursday that Samsung was coming under intense scrutiny from more firms, not only Apple but from others outside the information and technology industry trying to keep the company at bay.

“It’s a matter of (wanting) to hammer in a protruding nail,” said Lee.

Earlier last week, Apple filed a complaint against Samsung with the U.S. district court of Northern California for alleged copyright infringement, seeking injunctions, actual damages and punitive damages.

The U.S.-based firm’s claims centered on similarities in design, user interface and software between Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s flagship smartphone Galaxy S.

Industry insiders say Samsung’s filing of countersuits against Apple, which is also one of the Seoul-based company’s biggest clients, signals that the relationship between the two has seen some changes.

Samsung has remained silent even when Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs called Samsung a “copycat” at the launch event of iPad 2 for they believed there was no need to take actions against its top customer.

When looking closely into Samsung’s sales last year, Sony, which bought about $5 billion of their parts from Samsung, was Samsung’s No. 1 customer, followed closely by Apple.

Apple is expected to become the biggest customer for Samsung this year since the Seoul-based firm supplies the core sub-parts for Apple like the A4 chip, which is embedded in the U.S. giant’s smartphones and tablet PCs.

Sources say Apple unofficially asked Samsung for more supply, especially after its Japanese partners were hit hard by the country’s worst earthquake last month, a factor adding to Samsung’s confidence.

Samsung is also getting ready to launch the second model ― Galaxy S 2 ― of its flagship smartphone, which may be part of the reason why Samsung gave an instant response so as not to lose ground in the smartphone battle, according to industry sources.

“It will become more and more common for those in the electronics and IT industries, which are global competitors and also part-supplying partners, to engage in lawsuits, promotion activities and other events,” said an industry source.

In a related matter, Nokia has filed for lawsuits against Apple over patent rights involving mobile phone, MP3 players, tablet PC and computer, immediately after losing a lawsuit against the same firm.

Apple and Motorola are also currently engaged in an ongoing court dispute.

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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