Gadget Wars: Samsung Alleges that the iPhone 4S Infringes its Patents

By Joseph Mandour on October 7, 2011

ipad-iphone-200x131 Orange County – What began as typical chest thumping by two major tech companies has turned into an all-out brawl. Since April of this year, Apple and Samsung have been engaged in as many as 20 patent litigation suits in major markets of at least nine countries, including Australia, Britain, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, the United States, and South Korea. Additionally, Samsung is poised to file two new requests for preliminary injunction in France and Italy, asking courts to bar Apple from releasing the iPhone 4S in those countries. Samsung alleges that the iPhone 4S infringes its patents covering wide-band code-division multiple access standards for mobile handsets, or WCDMA.

Apple initiated this whirlwind of international patent litigation back in April, when it filed suit against Samsung in the United States alleging that the Samsung Galaxy line of products infringed on a number of Apple utility and design patents, copyrights, and trademarks relating to its iPhone and iPad. In turn Samsung counterclaimed, alleging Apple infringed patents owned by Samsung. In the blink of an eye, the litigation spiraled out of control into an all out international patent war.

Apple has the early upper hand with favorable court rulings in Germany and The Hague which have blocked Samsung products in those jurisdictions. The German court held that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab too closely resembled Apple’s iPad 2. Apple appears to be set on protecting its market share, and has rejected a recent offer to settle patent litigation in Australia, which is preventing Samsung from releasing its tablets into that market. It seems like these early setbacks have spurred Samsung to find new markets to battle with Apple in hopes of gaining leverage on other fronts. In addition to France and Italy, Samsung is also ready to litigate in other “key markets” in Europe that have yet to be disclosed.

Samsung recently posted in a blog post, “Apple has continued to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights and free ride on our technology. We believe it is now necessary to take legal action to protect our innovation.”

Typically, companies settle or agree to cross-license before the litigation evolves to epic proportions. In this case, however, there seems to be so much bad blood between the two giants that neither wants to back down. It will be surprising if the war between Samsung and Apple continues much longer because it is hard to imagine that even these two heavyweights can sustain the toll of global litigation.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement