Samsung sues Apple in escalation of patent fight

Samsung sued Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in a U.S. federal court for patent-infringement, escalating the three-month patent battle between the two companies, which compete heavily in smartphones and tablets.

Samsung filed a fresh lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. District Court in Delaware and also filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission to block the import of Apple's products. "Apple has copied many of Samsung's innovations in its Apple iPhone, iPod and iPad products," Samsung said in its lawsuit.

An Apple spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suit and ITC complaint are the latest in a tit-for-tat battle between the two companies--made all the more fraught by the fact that Apple was Samsung's second-largest customer last year, mainly for chipsets. Apple began the litigation in April, complaining that Samsung's smartphones and tablets running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform "slavishly" copied Apple's products, and that Samsung was infringing on the look and trademarks of its devices. Since then, Samsung has filed countersuits against Apple in California, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Earlier this month, a lawyer representing Apple in the California case said in court that executives from the two companies had been holding talks to try and resolve the dispute. However, a Samsung spokesman disputed that statement. "We are unaware of any meetings or discussions between the two sides over this matter," Samsung spokesman Kim Titus told FierceWireless.

Samsung's suit in Delaware could be put on hold if the ITC decides to investigate. Typical ITC investigations can take 15 to 18 months.

Interestingly, the Samsung-Apple dispute is beginning to resemble Apple's patent dispute with Nokia (NYSE:NOK), which ended earlier this month. Both sides in the Apple-Nokia battle filed suits against each other in federal court and in the ITC. The dispute, which began in October 2009, ended after Apple and Nokia agreed to settle all patent litigation between the companies and to withdraw their respective complaints against each other from the ITC. As part of the settlement, Apple agreed to pay Nokia a one-time payment as well as ongoing royalties for the length of the deal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Nokia said it will have a positive financial impact on the company's revised second-quarter results.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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