Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is expanding its lawsuit against Samsung, now targeting the new Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet as yet another product it says violates its intellectual property rights.
"The original complaint already accused Samsung of -slavishly copying' Apple's designs," Florian Mueller, a self-described intellectual property activist, wrote in a June 17 breakdown on his Foss Patents blog. "The amended one stresses that Samsung -has been even bolder' than other competitors emulating Apple's products."
In addition to the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the expanded complaint targets a multitude of other Samsung devices such as the Galaxy S II. Muller detailed how Apple added three utility patents to the list of allegedly violated intellectual property, including two hardware patents focusing on touch-sensitive panels and a software patent for graphical user interfaces. The company also added five new design patents, and four trade dress applications, to that list.
"In the very near term, Apple will have to decide on whether to request a preliminary injunction," he wrote. "That's reasonably likely. If the court appeared to give serious consideration to this measure, it could put enormous pressure on Samsung and greatly increase the likelihood of a near-term settlement in Apple's favor."
The Apple-Samsung battle is not your typical intellectual-property battle. Even as Apple's iPhone and iPad compete fiercely with the devices in Samsung's portfolio, Apple remains a major purchaser of components from Samsung, which is only too happy to cash the checks.
Samsung originally filed patent-infringement lawsuits against Apple in South Korea, Japan and Germany April 21. "Samsung is responding actively to the legal action taken against us in order to protect our intellectual property," read an April 22 statement posted on the Samsung Website, "and to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business."
Samsung was responding to Apple's filing with the U.S. District Court of Northern California, a 38-page suit that claimed Samsung's smartphones and tablets closely copied the iPhone and iPad in look, packaging and user interface.
"Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smartphone products and consumer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple's technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products," Apple wrote in the suit.
Apple also has patent-infringement suits lodged against HTC and Motorola. But the Samsung lawsuit-and-countersuit is a little different, when you consider that Apple was responsible for roughly $6 billion, or 4 percent, of Samsung's 2010 revenue.
"I expect the relationship to continue," Apple COO Tim Cook said during his company's April 20 earnings call, soon after news of the suit hit the Web. "We felt the mobile division of Samsung had crossed the line ... after trying for some time to work the issue, we decided to rely on the courts."
Apple recently settled a high-profile intellectual property dispute with Nokia. Under the terms of that agreement, Apple will pay Nokia a one-time fee in addition to royalties; neither company disclosed the amounts of money at issue.
"We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees," Stephen Elop, president and CEO of Nokia, wrote in a June 14 statement. "This settlement demonstrates Nokia's industry-leading patent portfolio and enables users to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile-communications market."
Nokia and Apple had spent months trading brutally worded lawsuits, even taking complains to the U.S. International Trade Commission. But Apple's probably hoping for a much more advantageous result with its Samsung lawsuit.