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Update: Patent Plot Thickens: Apple Sues Samsung; ITC Pushes For Nokia, HTC

Two developments in Apple’s various patent fights over mobile products: The company got a knock back at the U.S. International Trade Commission, which recommended backing HTC and Nokia’s position in separate patent suits filed against the companies by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). Meanwhile, it has at the same time opened an entirely new front in the patent war, by filing a complaint against Samsung over its Galaxy line of products.

Today, the ITC determined that HTC and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) do not infringe Apple’s patents, in separate cases where Apple is seeking to ban imports of the companies’ products for such violations.

The HTC case concerns five different patents around its Android devices, while the Nokia case covers one of those five. In both, HTC and Nokia have countersued Apple as well. The HTC case is due to begin on May 9, while another judge in March already determined that Apple was not violating any Nokia patents.

Today’s ITC’s recommendation is not legally binding: according to a report in Bloomberg, the HTC case is due to be decided on by Administrative Law Judge Carl Charneski on August 5, at which point it will get reviewed by the full six-member commission; this could end up resulting in HTC getting a ban on imports of its devices, if the ITC rules against it. The Nokia case is going up on June 24.

Samsung=Samesung? It was once a joke used on the television show 30 Rock (an exec sold the E in GE to Samsung…), but Apple thinks it’s no laughing matter. In what looks like another Android headache for Apple, the company has filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in Northern California, alleging that the Korean manufacturer’s popular Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets steal ideas from Apple’s mobile products, claiming patent and trademark infringement, as well as unfair competition.

The complaint, detailed in AllThingsD, covers areas ranging from technology to physical hardware design and even screen icons. The suit covers not just the iPhone but also the “trade dress” (the physical aspects) of its iPad device: “Samsung’s Galaxy Tab computer tablet [pictured] also slavishly copies a combination of several elements of the Apple Product Configuration Trade Dress,” it notes.

What happens next? Apple is seeking injunctions, actual damages and punitive damages against Samsung. If successful, that could end up being a bad sign for the other Android makers out there.

Update: Apple has released a statement on the lawsuit, which it has sent to mocoNews: “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. This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”

Asked if it would extend the lawsuit to other territories such as Europe and Asia, Apple declined to comment. Since the story of the lawsuit broke, there have been reports that Samsung intends to counter-sue.

4 Responses to “Update: Patent Plot Thickens: Apple Sues Samsung; ITC Pushes For Nokia, HTC”

  1. googler

    There is no way Apple can beat Google in this case. The only thing that’s going to happen is it’s going to explode in Steve Jobs’ face and cause Apple to forfeit the whole phone & tablet market to Google, and face criminal indictments as well. Wikileaks explains it nicely here:

    Google is “the lesser of the evils” in this game since Bill Gates & Steve Ballmer are deeply involved in racketeering deals with many of the guilty people, and hence Google wins!

    Remember those words: Google W-I-N-S

  2. Whatever the outcome, the true winners of all the patent suits are always the lawyers. The whole patent system and the patent war is not anymore about protecting intellectual property but about filling the pockets of the army of lawyers who make sure that there are more and more trials, however ridiculous the claims.
    Companies such as Apple, Nokia, HTC….should finally realise that this is not getting them anywhere and that they are simply being used by the law companies as cash cows.

  3. True that Apple created innovative products and they are being copied by other manufacturers, I assume the design of the device should be out of the question here. Technology, GUI, etc should be protected for Apple’s IP.