Apple, Samsung Patent Battle Heats Up


Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has filed a U.S. trade complaint to block Samsung Electronics Co from importing a variety of electronic devices, less than one week after Samsung sought to stop imports of Apple's popular iPads and iPhones.

The complaint filed Tuesday with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. escalates a patent infringement battle also being waged in South Korea, where Samsung is based.

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Apple began the fight, contending in an April 15 complaint filed in a San Jose, California federal court that Samsung's Galaxy line of tablets and mobile phones infringed several patents and ``slavishly'' copied its iPads and iPhones.

``Samsung chose to copy Apple, not to innovate,'' Apple said in a July 1 court filing. It said Samsung is trying to trade off Apple's popularity by calling products, such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet and Galaxy S 4G smartphone, ``just like an iPad'' or ``just like an iPhone.''

But Samsung countered that Apple infringed five patents, and on June 29 asked the ITC to block imports of such products as the iPhone 4, iPad 2 3G and iPod Touch.

A copy of Apple's ITC complaint was not immediately available but the ITC website shows that one was filed. The ITC is an independent federal agency overseeing trade disputes.

Apple, a lawyer for Apple and a lawyer for Samsung did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Galaxy products use Google Inc's Android operating system, which competes with Apple's mobile software.

Apple had in 2010 been Samsung's second-largest customer, accounting for $5.7 billion of sales tied mainly to semiconductors, according to Samsung's annual report.

Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE) is Samsung's largest customer.

Last week, Apple asked the San Jose court for a preliminary injunction to block imports of infringing products.

Apple is based in Cupertino, California, and Samsung in Suwon City, South Korea.

Apple's complaint is In re: Certain Electronic Digital Media Devices and Components Thereof, U.S. International Trade Commission, No. 2827. Samsung's complaint is In re: Mobile Electronic Devices, Including Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, and Tablet Computers at the same agency, No. 2824.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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