Samsung Seeks to Block Sales of Apple's Latest iPhone 4S in France, Italy
By Jun Yang and Amy Thomson – Oct 5, 2011 6:54 AM ET
Samsung Electronics Co. will seek to ban Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone 4S in France and Italy on patent- infringement claims, escalating the dispute between the world’s two biggest makers of smartphones and tablets.
Samsung will file motions with courts in Paris and Milan seeking the ban, each citing two patent infringements on wireless telecommunications technology, the Suwon, South Korea- based company said in an e-mailed statement today. Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S in Cupertino, California yesterday and aims to start sales later this month.
The move adds to legal disputes that began in April, when Apple claimed that Samsung’s Galaxy devices ‘‘slavishly” copied the iPad and iPhone. At stake is dominance in the fastest-growing segment of the $207 billion mobile-phone market, where Apple is competing against makers of handsets powered by Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android operating system.
“It’s clearly part of this increasing mobile patent war that we’ve been seeing in recent months,” said James Cordwell, a London-based analyst at Atlantic Equities Service who rates Apple’s shares “overweight” and doesn’t own any. “What’s at stake is your long-term strategic position. It’s less about the country-by-country blockade.”
Steve Park, a Seoul-based spokesman for Apple, declined to comment on Samsung’s statement. Florence Catel, a spokeswoman for Samsung France, did not have any additional information on when the suit will be filed or when a hearing will take place.
Samsung plans to file preliminary injunctions in other countries after further review, it said in the statement. Apple, maker of the iMac computer and the iPad tablet, is also one of the South Korean company’s biggest buyers of chips and displays.
“Apple has continued to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights and free ride on our technology,” Samsung said in today’s statement. “Samsung believes that Apple’s violation as being too severe and that iPhone 4S should be barred from sales.”
Samsung gained 1.7 percent to 842,000 won at the 3 p.m. close of trading in Seoul, before the company issued the statement. Apple dropped 0.8 percent to the equivalent of $370.82 in German trading as of 12:42 p.m. in Frankfurt. The stock yesterday fell 0.6 percent to $372.50 in New York.
Apple yesterday introduced the iPhone 4S equipped with a faster processor, a higher-resolution camera and a new software interface to help it vie with Google’s Android, which powers Samsung’s Galaxy phone and tablets.
At stake is leadership in the market for smartphones, which is projected to double by 2015, when 1 billion of the handsets will be sold, according to research firm IDC. While Apple is the single biggest smartphone maker, the Android coalition leads the market, accounting for 41.7 percent. The iPhone accounted for almost half Apple’s sales in the most recent quarter.
“If Samsung just sits there doing nothing, they will end up letting Apple label them as a copycat,” said Choi Do Yeon, an analyst at LIG Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul. “Samsung will want to win something from any court, whether it’s a ban or an agreement from Apple to pay royalties.”
Apple had earlier won backing from a Dusseldorf court that upheld a temporary ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany, which Strategy Analytics forecasts will be Europe’s third-largest market for tablets this year. Samsung filed an appeal against the ruling.
In Australia, Apple has delayed the release of the product for two months by seeking a temporary judicial ban.
Samsung will abandon plans to sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia if it doesn’t win approval to sell it in the next two weeks, Neil Young, a Samsung lawyer told Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett in Sydney yesterday. Missing the Christmas season would result in the new tablet being “dead,” he said.
Samsung avoided an injunction on its tablet computers in the Netherlands, where it was ordered by a court in The Hague to halt some sales of the Galaxy S, S II and Ace smartphones.
To contact the reporters on this story: Amy Thomson in London at email@example.com