Apple files another US patent suit against Samsung

This time, Apple takes aim at the Galaxy Nexus smartphone

Apple has filed another U.S. patent lawsuit against Samsung Electronics and is seeking a preliminary injunction asking a federal judge to halt sales of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone while the case makes its way through the court.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, with a redacted copy of the case made publicly available Friday night. The lawsuit involves four Apple patents for technology that allows users to touch a phone number on a Web page to dial the number, word placement, Siri voice recognition and unified search, and the ability to unlock a smartphone by sliding an image from one location to another.

"Sales of the Galaxy Nexus during this litigation will cause irreparable harm to Apple," the company said in the lawsuit. "The smartphone market is at a critical juncture, as the overwhelming majority of consumers move to smartphones, and the consumers' long-term preferences and purchases may be determined to a great extent by the operating system on their first smartphone." The importance of that initial purchase "is precisely why Samsung copies Apple's products and incorporates Apple's patented features, i.e., in order to lure crucial first-time purchasers away from Apple."

Samsung's decision to sell the Galaxy Nexus in the U.S. "is all the more egregious considering that Samsung did so in the face of this Court's prior determination that Samsung's earlier devices likely infringe certain Apple patents and that sales of such devices would likely cause Apple 'to lose market share to Samsung' that 'could support a finding of irreparable harm'," the latest lawsuit says.

Google and Samsung in October of last year unveiled the Galaxy Nexus, which runs Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of the Android operating system. The Apple lawsuit specifically targets Ice Cream Sandwich "with its interactive features" in the lawsuit, contending that Galaxy Nexus sales will mean that "Apple loses not only market share in the smartphone market, but also an untold number of sales in the broader mobile device market."

Besides losing potential iPhone customers to the Galaxy Nexus, Apple will also suffer "incalculable" lost sales for iMacs, Macbooks and Apple TVs, the company contends. Further, Apple will be deprived of revenue it would have made through the iTunes store for both digital media and apps sales.

Apple has filed lawsuits against Samsung around the world, claiming that Samsung products including smartphones and tablets violate numerous Apple patents. Apple has been granted injunctions in a number of the cases, with judges ordering Samsung to stop selling specific products, as well as requiring the company to make changes to its products. A German judge ruled last week that changes Samsung Electronics has made to the Galaxy Tab 10.1N are enough that Apple's intellectual property rights are no longer being infringed with that product. However, another judge in a separate German court ruled that Samsung can continue to sell the Galaxy Nexus in Germany.

Apple contends in the new U.S. lawsuit that it "has been forced to relentlessly pursue Samsung all over the world" and "yet while these cases progress -- even after this Court found Apple likely to succeed on its infringement claims against prior Samsung devices -- Samsung continues to launch infringing copycat products with impunity, all with the assumption that courts, including this court, will not stop Samsung before the gain to Samsung, and harm to Apple, is virtually irreversible."

Representatives of Samsung could not immediately be reached to comment about the lawsuit. The company has, however, continued to defend itself against the lawsuits Apple has filed worldwide.

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Nancy Weil

IDG News Service

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