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Samsung bites Apple

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:intellectual property? patent infringement? wireless?

It seems that Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd is taking a more aggressive stance against Apple Inc. The South Korean company has recently filed a lawsuit seeking to ban sales of iPhone 4S in Italy and France. The case has alleged that Apple infringed Samsung's wireless technology in 3G mobile phones.

"Apple has continued to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights and free ride on our technology, and we will steadfastly protect our intellectual property. Samsung plans to file preliminary injunctions in other countries after further review," the company stated.

The move intensifies the legal disputes between the two companies that began in April when Apple claimed Samsung's Galaxy devices 'slavishly' copied the iPad and iPhone. At stake is dominance in the fast-growing segment of the $207 billion mobile phone market, where Apple is contending against other handset makers. Apple introduced the iPhone 4S, equipped with a faster processor, a higher-resolution camera and a new software interface to help it compete with Google's Android that powers Samsung's Galaxy phone and tablets.

"It's clearly part of this increasing mobile patent war that we've been seeing in recent months," noted James Cordwell, a London-based analyst at Atlantic Equities Service. "What's at stake is your long-term strategic position. It's less about the country-by-country blockade."

Apple refused to comment but people familiar with the company's legal strategy said the fact that Samsung claimed the phone patents in the threatened European action were 'essential' could show it has a weak hand.

A protracted legal dispute is delaying the release of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia. Analysts argue that even short delays can prove costly in the technology business, where products have very short life cycles. All eyes are now on the U.S. where Apple is due to seek an injunction this month.

Samsung will abandon plans to sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia if it doesn't win approval to sell it in the next two weeks, noted Neil Young, a Samsung attorney. Missing the Christmas season would result in the new tablet being 'dead,' he added.

The dispute cuts to the heart of the complex relationship between Apple and Samsung. Although the two compete on handsets, Samsung is also a core supplier of chips to Apple.

Although Apple may be able to buy more chips from Taiwan, it is unlikely that smaller Taiwan suppliers can match the more economical and broader packages of semiconductors offered by Samsung, the world's biggest maker of memory chips.

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