Apple Sues Samsung for ‘Blatantly’ Copying of iPhone and iPad

In the latest intellectual property suit to hit the smartphone industry, Apple is suing Samsung, alleging the Galaxy line of phones and tablets infringe on a number of the company’s patents and trademarks.

Apple Inc sued rival Samsung Electronics claiming that Samsung's Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablet 'slavishly' copies the iPhone and iPad, according to court papers. Photo: Jose Maria/Flickr

Apple is suing Samsung for infringing its copyrights with the popular Galaxy phones and Tab models, which both run Google’s rival Android software. The American lawsuit claims that Samsung is ‘slavishly’ copying Apple’s iPhone and iPad designs.

“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,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said in a statement. “This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”

The suit, filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in Northern California, alleges patent and trademark infringement, as well as unfair competition. Apple is seeking injunctions, actual damages and punitive damages, as well as a finding that the alleged infringement was willful.

Apple cites examples of patent infringement that include both core technology and aesthetics, and refers to patents issued in 2009 and 2010. Apple also claims that the arrangement of icons and packaging are similar between the Galaxy phones and the iPhone.

“Samsung’s Galaxy Tab computer tablet slavishly copies a combination of several elements of the Apple Product Configuration Trade Dress,” Apple says in its suit. The company is bringing 16 claims against Samsung, including unjust enrichment, trademark infringement and 10 patent claims.

It notes, additionally, that Samsung’s tablet, like Apple’s, uses a similar rectangular design with rounded corners, similar black border and array of icons. That could indicate other tablet manufacturers, such as Motorola and HTC, can expect lawsuits in the future too.

Samsung, which is also a supplier of chips to Apple for the iPhone and iPad, said that it would fight the actions. All the devices concerned run Google’s rival Android operating system. Kim Titus, a Samsung representative, said the company would protect its intellectual property and “actively” respond to the lawsuit.

In a statement Samsung said its “development of core technologies and strengthening [of] our intellectual property portfolio are keys to our continued success. Samsung will respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property.”

John Jackson, an analyst with CCS Insight, said Samsung is essentially Apple’s only real tablet competitor at this stage. “It’s clear that they do not intend to let Apple run away with the category,” Jackson said.

Earlier, however, Apple’s lawyers faced a setback when a separate, similar action against Nokia and HTC was found not to be valid in a recommendation to an American court by the US International Trade Commission. In a round of lawsuits, Apple and Nokia are also suing each other, as are Microsoft and Motorola and Oracle and Google.

In addition to competing against Apple in the highly competitive smartphone and tablet markets, Samsung has also recently launched its own media portals to allow customers to buy music and video downloads, making it a direct rival to iTunes. [header image via José María/Flickr; story via BBC, Reuters and All Things D]

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