Tech giant seeks sales ban on Apple's next iPhone as patent fight intensifies
Apple has claimed that Samsung Electronics copied the look and feel of iPhones and iPads in its Galaxy series of smartphones and touch-screen tablets. / Korea Times
By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics is seeking a complete ban on the sales of the upcoming Apple iPhone 5 in Korea, in apparent retaliation to its U.S. rival’s continual patent suits against it in global markets.
Sources closely involved with the thorny issue including Samsung insiders made the comments Sunday as the two technology firms’ patent war is set to spread from Europe to the rest of the world.
At least 23 lawsuits are pending between Apple and Samsung in such countries as France, Japan, Germany, Korea and the United States and more are expected in an increasing number of states.
``Just after the arrival of the iPhone 5 here, Samsung plans to take Apple to court here for its violation of Samsung’s wireless technology related patents,’’ said a senior executive from Samsung Electronics, asking not to be identified.
``For as long as Apple does not drop mobile telecommunications functions, it would be impossible for it to sell its i-branded products without using our patents. We will stick to a strong stance against Apple during the lingering legal fights.’’
His remarks contrast Samsung’s hitherto approach of not entering into a dogfight with Apple even when the latter brought up patent issues with Samsung’s Galaxy brand smartphones and tablets.
The reason Samsung swallowed the image as copycats is Apple is one of the firm’s major clients as many of the U.S. behemoth’s i-products use its flash memories.
But Samsung showed signs of changing its strategy after Apple won an injunction from a German court against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 early last month so that Korea’s foremost company cannot sell the tablet PC in Germany.
To add insult to injury, it had to pull its latest tablet version of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, which has a smaller screen than the Tab 10.1, from its unveiling event during the IFA tech fair in Berlin this month.
Samsung responded by filing an appeal against the Germany ruling and a countersuit against Apple in Australia where the sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 have also been prohibited.
And the world’s second-largest handset maker is looking to make preemptive strikes by targeting the iPhone 5.
``We are taking different tactics since we are quite confident,’’ said another Samsung executive on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to speak publicly for Samsung.
``If Samsung wins in Germany that will give us a big breakthrough and so will other envisioned efforts against such products as the iPhone 5.’’
Samsung claimed that Apple’s iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPad 2 violate seven patents related to its wireless technology.
Targeting iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 has drawn interest even before officially hitting the market thanks to its attractive features and functionality.
It uses LG Display’s liquid crystal display (LCD), Samsung’s NAND flash memories and application processors (APs) and LG Innotek's camera modules. It is also likely to have an 8-megapixel camera and an A5 dual-core processor.
Near-field communication (NFC), a feature to make it possible for the iPhone to be waved over a sensor for credit-card payments, will be added, officials said.
If Samsung manages to suspend the latest Apple handset it could affect SK Telecom and KT, the nation’s top two mobile carriers, authorized to sell iPhones.
KT spokesman Lee In-won said that KT will pay attention to the ongoing patent battles, while SK Telecom spokeswoman Kim Ji-won made no comment.
KT and SK Telecom have sold some 2.7 million and 400,000 iPhones in the local market, respectively. The iPhone 5 will make its debut here in the not-so-distant future through the two carriers.
Yet, there are chances that the standoff between Samsung and Apple may ease as the former is reluctant to make an enemy of the latter.
Such a mantra was well felt in statements by the Korean firm’s chief executive during a recent meeting with reporters.
``Apple is Samsung’s biggest customer. Hewlett-Packard (HP), Nokia and Sony were Samsung’s previous big clients, however, Apple is now a primary one. From our perspective, we are not entirely happy (about the litigations),’’ Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung said.
As usual, Apple Korea’s representative Steve Park wasn’t available for comment on the issue.