Samsung, Apple Take Next Steps in World Patent War

Samsung has filed a legal complaint against Apple in France, the next stage in the two companies' worldwide patent war.

Samsung filed a legal complaint in France against Apple, extending a worldwide courtroom battle in which both companies accuse the other of intellectual-property violations.

"The complaint focuses on three technology patents, and not on the design of the tablets," a Samsung spokesperson told Agence France-Presse, which reported that the first court hearing is scheduled for December.

Samsung and Apple have fired lawsuits at each other in a number of countries, including the United States and Australia. Both sides claim their rival's products violate existing patents, but Apple has taken its complaints one step further by accusing Samsung of outright copying its designs.

In Germany, Apple won an injunction against Samsung on the grounds of patent infringement, forcing the latter to halt production of the Galaxy Tab in that country. Samsung withdrew the device from the IFA trade show in Berlin, with a spokesperson telling Bloomberg that it respected "the court's decision."

The legal battle has extended to Japan, where Apple asked a court to ban a selection of Samsung devices within that country.

Unnamed sources told Reuters Sept. 8 that Apple "has filed suit with the Tokyo District Court seeking the suspension of sales of Galaxy S and its sequel S II smartphones and the Galaxy Tab 7."

Both companies are prepping high-profile releases. Apple's next smartphone, dubbed "iPhone 5" by the media, will reportedly arrive in October. Meanwhile, Samsung's steady cadence of increasingly powerful Android tablet and smartphone releases suggests it's trying to become more of a dominant player in the mobility space.

Samsung's next big bet in that arena is the Galaxy S II smartphone, which runs Android 2.3 "skinned" with the proprietary TouchWiz interface. The device includes a 4.3-inch "Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic LED) Plus" screen (protected by durable Gorilla Glass), 16GB of onboard memory expandable via microSD to 32GB, and two cameras. In the U.S., the device will be available from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in September.

Apple has lodged other patent-infringement suits against HTC and Motorola, and recently settled an intellectual-property dispute with Nokia. Apple originally filed its case against Samsung with the U.S. District Court of Northern California, alleging that the look, packaging and user interfaces of Samsung's smartphones and tablets too closely copy the iPhone and iPad.

Follow Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter