Smartphone Wars: Apple’s Patent Battle Intensifies

Reuters reports this afternoon that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has filed a preliminary injunction against competitor Samsung (NYSE:SEO) seeking to block the company from importing its products to the US, based on claims of patent infringement. The move from Apple is a shot back at Samsung, as last week the South Korean based company filed a similar lawsuit seeking to keep Apple from importing new iPhones and iPads. The patent struggle is the latest field of battle in an ongoing smartphone war, as exclusive economic rights to certain technologies are becoming increasingly valuable to producers. Last week bankrupt former telecomm giant Nortel sold off some 6,000 patents in a hotly contested auction to tech leaders Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), Sony (NYSE:SNE), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and others in exchange for a whopping $4.5 billion in cash.

Apple’s lawyers are accusing Samsung of intentional copycatting their products, telling the ITC, “Samsung chose to copy Apple, not to innovate, Apple said in a July 1 court filing. It said Samsung is trying to trade off Apple’s popularity by calling products, such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet and Galaxy S 4G smartphone, “just like an iPad” or “just like an iPhone.” While this in itself doesn’t constitute patent infringement, it may give regulators reason to suspect that Samsung has used protected parts in its products.

The ongoing litigation between the rival tech firms started with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) behind the gun, as the company filed the first suits against Samsung on April 15th. Samsung fired back, accusing Apple of patent infringement on June 28th, and today’s filing is the latest response from the legal team in Cupertino. Neither company’s lawyers agreed to comment on the situation.

If you’re interested, you can read the legal filings yourself in “Certain Electronic Digital Media Devices and Components Thereof, U.S. International Trade Commission, No. 2827 (Apple) and “Mobile Electronic Devices, Including Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, and Tablet Computers at the same agency, No. 2824.”

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