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Samsung-Apple patent lawsuit tally hits 21, and counting

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Analysis The legal activity around Android continues to mount, with the chief antagonists - Samsung and Apple - increasing their lawsuit tally to 21. And another may follow soon, as Samsung threatens to sue to block sales of the iPhone 5 as soon as it launches, at least in its home country of Korea.

Let's face it, this is relevant to all of us in pay TV and video. If Apple gains the upper hand we all have to operate in a very closed world of Apple's making.

According to sources who spoke to Korea Times, Samsung will file suit against Apple for alleged violation of nine patents related to wireless communications as soon as possible after the next Apple handset is unveiled. As Apple is pursuing for key products such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Korean vendor will seek a ban on imports and sales of the iPhone 5, as well as flexing its intellectual property muscles more strongly than it has to date.

"For as long as Apple does not drop mobile telecommunications functions, it would be impossible for it to sell its i-branded products without using our patents," a Samsung source told the newspaper. "We will stick to a strong stance against Apple during the lingering legal fights."

Apple, which has scored most of the points in court recently in its feud with Samsung, has already filed suit in Korea, a brave move against the country's favorite son.

Samsung is also seeking to overturn the German injunction against its Galaxy Tab 10.1, and has filed yet another suit against Apple, in Australia, which brings the number of actions between the two firms to 21. Samsung's countersuit at the Federal Court of Australia alleges that the iPhone and iPad infringe seven patents related to wireless communications standards.

Australia is an important theatre not because of its market volumes, but because it may be the first market in which an Apple-Samsung case comes to a definite conclusion, potentially influencing judges in the key battlegrounds of Europe and the US. Australia was the first country where Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 suffered a temporary injunction, with the vendor barred from selling or marketing its product until a final judgment in Apple's suits. Apple has also won an injunction in Germany against the new Galaxy Tab 7.7.

"Samsung has a proud history of innovation in the mobile industry," said the company in a statement. "It has invested continuously in R&D, design and technology to produce our innovative and cutting edge mobile devices."

Samsung is one of the largest IPR holders in the world. On the 4G stage, it has increased its share of patents deemed essential to wireless standards because of its significant holdings in WiMAX and LTE. Apple will have to bear that in mind as it plans an LTE iPhone.

Its Australian filing came just days after the twentieth suit – this one from Apple – was lodged in the UK. The exact patents at issue have yet to be disclosed, although it appears this is a countersuit against an earlier Samsung complaint. Also in the UK, Apple recently won against Samsung in case handled by the rather less weighty Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Samsung had complained that Apple was calling the iPhone 4 the thinnest smartphone on the market, but maintained that the Galaxy S II was slimmer (at 8.71mm versus 9.3mm).

However, the ASA denied the claim because the S II has a thicker portion around the camera.

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