Apple sues Samsung over Galaxy products

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:42pm EDT

An employee of Samsung Electronics demonstrates Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet during a photo opportunity at a showroom of the company in Seoul January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

An employee of Samsung Electronics demonstrates Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet during a photo opportunity at a showroom of the company in Seoul January 18, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Lee Jae-Won

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc sued rival Samsung Electronics claiming that Samsung's Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablet "slavishly" copies the iPhone and iPad, according to court papers.

Galaxy products use Google Inc's Android operating system, the lawsuit says, which directly competes with Apple's mobile software. However, Apple's claims against Samsung focus on Galaxy's design features, such as the look of its screen icons.

The lawsuit, filed on Friday, alleges Samsung violated Apple's patents and trademarks.

"This kind of blatant copying is wrong," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said in a statement.

Kim Titus, a Samsung representative, said the company would protect its intellectual property and "actively" respond to the lawsuit.

"Samsung's development of core technologies and strengthening our intellectual property portfolio are keys to our continued success," Titus said in an email.

Apple is one participant in a web of litigation among phone makers and software firms over who owns the patents used in smartphones. For instance, Nokia has sued Apple, which in turn sued handset maker HTC Corp.

U.S. International Trade Commission staff, at a hearing on Monday, recommended that HTC and Nokia shouldn't be found liable for infringing Apple's patents relating to smartphones, Bloomberg reported.

ITC staff acts on behalf of the public and its recommendations aren't binding.

John Jackson, an analyst with CCS Insight, said Samsung is essentially Apple's only real tablet competitor at this stage.

"It's clear that they do not intend to let Apple run away with the category," Jackson said.

In its lawsuit against Samsung, Apple noted that earlier versions of Samsung smart phones did not embody the same combination of Apple's designs.

"Even the icons in earlier versions of the Samsung smart phones looked different because they had a variety of shapes -- and did not appear as a field of square icons with rounded corners," the lawsuit said.

Apple is bringing 16 claims against Samsung, including unjust enrichment, trademark infringement and 10 patent claims.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. et al, 11-1846.

(Additional reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Gary Hill and Richard Chang)

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