Apple sues Samsung over tablets, phones

Apple has filed a lawsuit against Samsung, alleging that the consumer electronics giant has violated Apple's intellectual property in the design of its mobile devices.

Samsung Galaxy Tab and Apple iPad

Samsung's Galaxy Tab stacked on top of Apple's first-generation iPad. (Credit: Donald Bell/CNET)

The suit, which was filed last week and picked up on by The Wall Street Journal, takes aim specifically at the Galaxy series of smartphones and tablets, as well as other Samsung smartphones, for "copying" Apple's user interface and design features. In it, Apple, the maker of the trend-setting iPhone and iPad, claims Samsung is infringing on its patents and is practicing unfair competition.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though an Apple representative told AllThingsD: "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," adding that "this kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."

In a statement emailed to ZDNet Australia's sister site CNET, a Samsung representative said this: "Samsung's development of core technologies and strengthening 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."

The lawsuit is of special interest given the relationship between the two companies. Samsung is the supplier of components in a handful of Apple devices, including part of Apple's A4 and A5 processors, which can be found in the company's iOS devices as well on the Apple TV product. Findings by AnandTech from earlier this morning also suggest that Apple has moved away from Toshiba to Samsung as the provider for solid-state storage in its MacBook Air notebooks.

Apple invested US$100 million in Samsung back in 1999 to help boost the company's production of flat-panel displays. Even so, the two companies have traded blows at one another publicly. In 2005 Samsung promised to knock Apple from its top spot with the iPod, launching a massive ad campaign the following year. More recently, during Apple's iPad 2 unveiling, Apple CEO Steve Jobs mocked Samsung's tablet efforts, misquoting Samsung vice president Lee Young-hee as saying that sales of the company's 7-inch Galaxy Tab tablet had been "small."

Apple has been a large customer of Samsung over the years, working with the company to buy up large orders of flash memory for use in devices like the iPhone. In February, the two companies were said to be working on a contract agreement with one another worth US$7.8 billion, yielding parts like processors, flash memory and LCD panels for future devices.


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DuyN posted a comment   

So does this mean mercedes can now sue every other car company for copying their similar designs in safety and style etc? Come on, companies have been copying each other for centuries. Is it possible for designer (fashion) labels to start sueing other manufacturers because they copied the design?

We all know who are the original producers are - if we want a cheaper alternative then so be it! If also seems like everything Apple brings out is seasonal. There's always going to be another product out, so if they're the first to bring out a new product and be "inspirational", then well done. Pat on the back. Now go home and design your next one.


JamesP3 posted a comment   

what i find funny is that the Samsung galaxy s looks exactly the same as a iphone 3GS - then a few months later the iphone 4 comes out and samsung has a Ohh SH!T moment. Then they make the samsung galaxy s ii (2) which looks like an iphone 4. And... they wonder why apple wants to sue.


over_it posted a comment   

OMG, will Apple just stop suing companies! They are just getting ridiculous! Grow up Apple.... Funny though how Apple are suing Samsung just as the nexus x is released, deja vu with the Google nexus phone much????


ADSLNerd posted a comment   

Funnily enough, it was only a matter of time before this occurred because Samsung keep using "inspired" designs from Apple for their own products. As soon as these devices were released, I could see the almost identical visual design - the chrome border from the Apple 3GS, etc.

Apple release a design and Samsung not long afterwards is already manufacturing a device that is very very similar. Ive said all along that Samsung's tables / phones that look very similar to Apple's and should have "Inspired by Apple" on the back of them.

Basiclaly, Samsung is purely making almost identical hardware (the similarites are by design, but without the iOS software - instead Android. Its very dangerous for Samsung to be making hardware that is so similar to Apple, considering both parties rely on each other for hardware.

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