Ina Fried

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Apple Files Patent Suit Against Samsung Over Galaxy Line of Phones and Tablets

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.

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.

“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,” an Apple representative told Mobilized. “This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”

Samsung said it would fight Apple’s legal action in the courts.

“Samsung’s development of core technologies and strengthening our intellectual property portfolio are keys to our continued success,” the company said in a statement. “Samsung will respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property.”

The smartphone industry is filled with patent actions, including an ongoing battle between Apple and Nokia, suits between Microsoft and Motorola, as well as a suit by Oracle against Google, to name but a few. This one is particularly interesting because Samsung is a prominent supplier for a number of Apple products.

Apple’s lengthy court filing, seen by Mobilized, is filled with what Apple claims are examples of the copy-catting, ranging from core technology to screen icons to hardware shape. In particular, Apple cites patents issued in 2009 and 2010 that cover the physical design of the iPhone along with various trademarks for its app icons.

In addition to the patent and trademark claims, Apple also alleges infringement of the “trade dress” of the iPhone and iPad, a legal term meaning they sure look a whole lot alike. Apple charges that everything from the icons on the Galaxy screen to the way the phone is packaged infringe on Apple’s designs.

“Samsung’s Galaxy Tab computer tablet also slavishly copies a combination of several elements of the Apple Product Configuration Trade Dress,” Apple says in its suit, noting that Samsung’s tablet, like Apple’s, uses a similar rectangular design with rounded corners, similar black border and array of icons.

Even as Apple is filing its latest claims, the company suffered a setback in earlier cases it has pending against HTC and Nokia with the U.S. International Trade Commission. According to Bloomberg, ITC staff has recommended siding against Apple in those cases, which also involve phone patents.

Apple’s suit against Samsung not only contains lots of harsh words, but also has lots of pretty pictures, including some that show side-by-side shots of Samsung’s products stacked up against Apple’s patent diagrams and against Apple’s products themselves.

In one head-to-head comparison, Apple shows the iPhone 3GS next to the original Galaxy i9000 model sold in South Korea last year.

Updated 3:10 p.m. with Samsung comment.

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