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Business | April 27, 2011

Samsung strikes back at Apple

A week after Apple's intellectual property infringement suit against Samsung in the US, the South Korean electronics giant has fired back.
According to news agency reports, Samsung filed three patent infringement lawsuits against Apple, targeting the iPhone and the iPad:

- a complaint with the Seoul (South Korea) Central District Court over five South Korean patents,

- a complaint with a court based in Tokyo (Japan) over two Japanese patents, and

- a complaint with the Landgericht (District Court) of Mannheim (Germany) over three German patents.

The patents "mainly [relate to] power reduction during data transmission, 3G technology for reducing errors during data transmission, and wireless data communication technology."

In its reaction to Apple's suit, Samsung had already announced its intent to respond "actively", which was widely understood to signal the usual action taken by high tech giants in such a situation: countersuits.

I venture to guess that it won't take long before we also see infringement accusations by Samsung against Apple in the US, most likely as counterclaims to Apple's lawsuit in the Northern District of California, and possibly beyond.

Globalization of smartphone patent disputes

It took Apple and Samsung only one week to have parallel lawsuits in four different countries. In the dispute between Apple and Nokia it took more than a year to get to that point.

There's definitely a trend toward globalization. For example, after Ericsson recently sued Chinese electronics giant ZTE in three European countries, ZTE reacted about a week later with a lawsuit in China (a market in which Ericsson generates substantial revenues).

Seoul and Tokyo are new venues in global smartphone patent disputes.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is already the venue for Oracle's litigation against Google, a case that is intended to go on trial by November. By the way, Oracle's litigators from the firm of Morrison & Foerster, led by Michael Jacobs (who defended Novell against SCO), also represent Apple against Samsung.

The Landgericht (District Court) of Mannheim, Germany, also serves as the venue of another smartphone patent dispute: Nokia and Apple are suing each other there.

It's a safe assumption that Apple will soon make assertions against Samsung in some or all of the countries in which Samsung just sued, and possibly in others. Apple holds smartphone-related patents in many jurisdictions around the globe.

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