Apple sues Samsung over Galaxy line: Co-opetition implodes

Apple sues Samsung over the Galaxy phone and tablet line in the latest installment of this messy customer-supplier relationship.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple is suing Samsung over Galaxy smartphones and tablets for alleged patent infringement. The lawsuit is the latest chapter of an odd coopetition arrangement that appears to be melting down.

According to various reports, Apple filed a lawsuit against Samsung in U.S. District Court in Northern California. Apple is alleging patent and trademark infringement and wants an injunction and damages.

In other words the gauntlet is thrown down. Ina Fried quotes an Apple spokesperson saying that it's' no coincidence that Samsung's devices look like iPad and iPhone clones. We'll overlook the fact that most phones and tablets look like Apple clones.

Apple's lawsuit is reportedly lengthy---we'll upload when we get a hold of it---but the bottom line is that the company alleges that Samsung is a copycat. In other words, Apple's lawsuit resembles dozens of similar suits flying between Nokia, Apple, RIM, HTC and others.

What's most fascinating here, however, is watching the meltdown between a customer and supplier. Apple is a big Samsung customer and some reports indicate that it is the largest customer. On one hand you have Steve Jobs taking aim at Korean companies, mocking Samsung and then depending on those outfits for parts.

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The Apple-Samsung relationship is messy even with all the revenue at stake. In tech, there are always oddball relationships. For instance, SAP is the largest reseller of Oracle databases.

It's obvious that Apple sees Samsung as a threat. This battle will only intensify if Apple ever enters the TV business. In theory, Samsung could cut off Apple. Apple plans to shoot first.

If you delve a little deeper, Apple's lawsuit appears to be the final bell for its relationship with Samsung. Apple has been rumored to be forging its own processor manufacturing deal. If it can procure screens elsewhere along with other components Apple could in theory cut out Samsung. Cutting out Samsung may hurt more than any lawsuit Apple could file.

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