By Don Southerton, KoreaLegal.org Editor
This legal drama draws my interest for a number of reasons. Most signifiant is that the smartphone battle between rivals Samsung and Apple has a very interesting spin–Samsung Group also provides technology for the iPhone and Apple products. What few outside Korea recognize is that the Samsung Group like the other Korean Groups often put their own divisions at odds with each other… important for firms where teams could grow complacent thinking business within the Group was a given. That said, one arm of Samsung is battling Apple while another is working closely as a key supplier.
Samsung Electronics Co., the second-largest maker of mobile phones, broadened its patent- infringement dispute with Apple Inc. (AAPL) by suing the iPhone creator in the U.S. a week after making claims in Asia and Europe.
Apple is infringing 10 patents related to mobile phones, Samsung said in an April 27 lawsuit in federal court in San Jose, California. The Suwon, South Korea-based company, which sells the Galaxy smartphone and tablet, claims Apple is using Samsung’s inventions without paying.
The lawsuit intensifies a legal dispute that began when Cupertino, California-based Apple sued Samsung earlier this month, claiming the Galaxy products “slavishly” copied iPad and iPhone technology and design. Samsung, which is also a supplier of some Apple chips, retaliated last week with lawsuits in Seoul, Tokyo and Mannheim, Germany.
“Samsung is continuing to respond actively to the legal action taken against us,” the company said in an e-mailed statement today.
In the U.S. complaint, Samsung accuses Apple of violating patents that “relate to fundamental innovations that increase mobile device reliability, efficiency, and quality, and improve user interface in mobile handsets and other products.”
The patented technology includes ways that a phone allows calls and Internet surfing at the same time; improvements in how text messages and attachments are sent; reductions in interference among mobile devices; and increases in the capacity of mobile networks, according to the complaint.
Samsung, which received the second-highest number of U.S. patents last year after International Business Machines Corp., is seeking an order to prevent further use of its innovations by Apple, plus cash compensation.
“Apple continues to violate Samsung’s patent rights by using these patented technologies without a license,” Samsung said in the lawsuit.
Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, referred to the company’s April 18 statement accusing Samsung of “blatant copying.”
“It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging,” the company said.
Apple’s April 15 complaint claims Samsung is infringing seven patents related to the way Galaxy devices understand user gestures, including selecting, scrolling, pinching and zooming. Samsung is also copying three patents on the design, including the flat black face of the iPhone and iPad, according to Apple.
The Galaxy phones and tablet, which use Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android software, were specifically designed to copy Apple products, Apple claims.
Apple is seeking a court order to block further use of its patents and trademarks, along with cash compensation and “reasonable funds for future corrective advertising.”
Samsung’s mobile-phone business “crossed the line,” Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, said last week after the company reported profit that almost doubled from a year ago.
The case is Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., 11cv2079, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose).