Apple files ITC suit vs. Samsung: Can this marriage be saved?

Apple launched its latest lawsuit against Samsung with an ITC complaint as the war between two key partners continues.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple launched its latest lawsuit against Samsung with an International Trade Commission complaint that seeks an injunction to prevent the Korean giant's key Android smartphones and tablets from being imported into the U.S.

Bloomberg first reported the Apple ITC suit and Florian Mueller is handicapping that patents in question. Apple has five technical patents and two design patents aimed at Samsung's Android army. In many respects, Apple's move with the ITC isn't surprising. Samsung also has an ITC lawsuit against Apple. Meanwhile, the two parties are duking it out in courtrooms around the world.

As noted before, the strangest thread through these Apple-Samsung duels is that the two parties are key partners. Apple procures memory, screens and components from Samsung. Samsung competes with Apple, which also happens to be the Korean company's largest customer.

The ITC lawsuit reads like the other Apple complaints against Samsung. The gist:
  • Apple created categories.
  • Samsung copied the hardware and designs.
  • Samsung is trying to poach sales by being a copycat.

This paragraph in the ITC suit sums up Apple's take:

"Many of Apple's innovations have become so popular and so recognized that they have become virtually synonymous with Apple's products and the Apple brand. Indeed, an Apple product can be readily identified, for example, by the way it operates and interfaces with its users...

As a result, Apple's innovations and products have been the subject of widespread imitation by Apple's competitors. Others have attempted to capitalize on Apple's success by copying its innovative technology, distinctive user interface and overall product design."

Apple then goes on to name Samsung as one of Apple's "principal infringers."

Note that Apple's lawsuits revolve around the user experience. What if Android improves to the point where the user experience is seamless? Can Apple sue over that?

Clearly, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 closes a lot of the hardware gaps with Apple. The difference is that Android is improving, but not quite seamless. Apple's aim is to head Samsung off at the pass.

Let's assume that Apple and Samsung settle differences somehow. Apple's relationship with Samsung the supplier and the competition is hard if not impossible to rectify. Money may save the Apple-Samsung marriage, but the odds aren't looking good.


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