Samsung stings Apple with patent suits of its own

Samsung said on Friday it filed patent-infringement lawsuits against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in three countries, and while the lawsuits are not direct responses to Apple's patent litigation against Samsung, they do represent an escalation in the tit-for-tat between the two companies.

Samsung filed its suits in Germany, Japan and its native South Korea, alleging that Apple's iPhone and iPad infringe on 10 of Samsung's mobile patents. The patents mainly relate to power reduction during data transmission, tethering and other wireless data technologies. "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," the company said in a statement. 

Apple filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and alleged that Samsung "slavishly" copied its iPhone and iPad in Samsung's Galaxy S 4G, Epic 4G and Nexus S smartphones, as well as the GalaxyTab, all of which use Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform. Apple alleged that Samsung copied the style, design and user interface of its products.

The lawsuits are complicated by the fact that Apple uses Samsung chipsets in its products. During Apple's quarterly earnings conference call last week, Apple COO Tim Cook acknowledged the relationship, but said its lawsuit was warranted.

"We are Samsung's largest customer, and Samsung is a very valued component supplier to us, and I expect the strong relationship will continue," Cook said, according to a Morning Star transcript. "Separately from this, we felt the mobile communication division of Samsung had crossed the line, and after trying for some time to work the issue, we decided we needed to rely on the courts."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Morning Star transcript

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