That didn't take long. Less than 24 hours after Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduced its iPhone 4S world phone, Samsung Electronics said it has filed preliminary injunction motions in Paris, France and Milano, Italy courts to block the sale of the device in those European countries.
Apple introduced the iPhone 4S at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters Oct. 4, showing off a device that is remarkably similar to the iPhone 4 launched 16 months ago and disappointing some watchers expecting a shiny, new iPhone 5 device.
The iPhone 4S has several improvements within the handset, including a speedier new processor, an 8 megapixel camera, an intelligent assistant application and the ability to run on both GSM and CDMA networks worldwide. When it launches Oct. 14 in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK, it will be the first iPhone to run on Sprint's 3G network.
Samsung, which is the largest maker of smartphones based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system, isn't having it.
The company, which was first sued by Apple for patent infringement in April after Apple said the Samsung Galaxy S handset design "slavishly copies" the iPhone, claimed the iPhone 4S infringes on two wireless communications technology patents in both France and Italy. Specifically, the technology covers Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) standards for 3G mobile handsets.
"The infringed technology is essential to the reliable functioning of telecom networks and devices and Samsung believes that Apple's violation has being too severe and that the iPhone 4S should be barred from sales," Samsung said in a statement. "Apple has continued to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights and free ride on our technology. We believe it is now necessary to take legal action to protect our innovation."
These new complaints are in addition to existing preliminary injunction requests Samsung filed versus Apple. Samsung said it will file similar preliminary injunctions to halt the iPhone 4S in other countries.
South Korea-based Samsung chose France and Italy to begin its gross litigation against the iPhone 4S because they are considered key market.
The legal imbroglios between partners Apple and Samsung, whose Android-based handsets are popular, are increasing.
In one of the more serious cases, Samsung's legal counsel said the company may not launch the Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android Honeycomb tablet in Australia because Apple has successfully blocked it there since August.
If Samsung can't began selling it in that country in time for the holiday sales rush, the product could be "commercially dead," the company's attorneys complained this week.
The stakes are high in smartphones. Apple's iPhone has sold more than 128 million units worldwide. Samsung has shipped tens of millions of smartphones based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system, helping that platform reach 40 percent market share, roughly double that of the iPhone worldwide.
Interestingly, Samsung and Apple are partners. Samsung makes the A5 processor that powers the iPad 2 and new iPhone 4S, as well as display technology for both Apple gadgets and other devices.
Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek, who predicted Samsung would ask for injunctions preventing the launches of the new iPhone in the United States and Europe, said the "relationship is souring" because Samsung has emerged as Apple's top handset rival in the global market.
Apple, he said, may then in turn seek to tap other OEMs for components for its leading mobile devices.