Apple is lawyering up against Samsung on the grounds that the Galaxy smartphones and tablets bear too close a resemblance to the iPhone and iPad.
In a patent infringement suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Northern California, first reported on Monday by All Things Digital, Apple also alleges that Samsung infringed on its trademark and engaged in unfair competition.
"It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging," an Apple spokesperson said in a statement to All Things Digital. "This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."
In addition to seeking injunctions, actual damages and punitive damages, Apple intends to prove that Samsung willfully infringed on its patents. So far, though, Samsung doesn't look ready to cave. "Samsung will respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property," a Samsung spokesperson told All Things Digital.
Since hitting the market last November, Samsung's Galaxy Tab has managed to take a bite out of the iPad's market share, which dropped from 93 percent in Q3 of 2010 to 73 percent in the fourth quarter, according to recent data from IDC. Samsung's Galaxy Tab accounted for 17 percent of the tablet market in Q4, IDC said.
Meanwhile, Samsung has been having similar results with its Android powered Galaxy S smartphone, which surpassed 10 million units sold in January, seven months after its launch.
The never-ending parade of iPhone and iPad look-alikes has kept Apple's legal teams busy for the past couple of years. Last March, Apple sued HTC for allegedly infringing on patents covering the iPhone's touch-screen user interface as well as its underlying architecture and hardware.
Last November, Apple sued Motorola for allegedly infringing on its multi-touch and other touch-screen patents in Android smartphones.
HP, which is gearing up to launch its TouchPad tablet and Pre3 smartphone this summer, is no doubt receiving a thorough going-over from Apple's legal team. The TouchPad bears an uncanny resemblance to the iPad, and Apple has previously given HP the Robert DeNiro "I'm watching you" look with regard to patented technology.
In a January 2009 earnings call, acting CEO Tim Cook suggested that Apple was keeping a close eye on the touch screen functionality of Palm's Pre smartphone, which hit the market a few months later.
"We like competition, as long as they don't rip off our IP, and if they do, we're going to go after anybody that does," Cook said in the call.