If Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Samsung eventually intend to reach some kind of settlement over patent and trademark disputes, as Apple did with Nokia (NYSE: NOK), they are taking a particularly messy course to arrive there. Yesterday, Samsung fired the latest salvo in the ongoing dispute between the two companies, with a complaint filed at the International Trade Commission. If successful, it could lead to an important ban on iPhone, iPad and iPod products.
The filing is the first at the ITC, although both have lodged suits in U.S. district courts as well as in international courts. This latest chapter was first reported on by patent blogger Florian Mueller.
This latest complaint, numbered 337-2824, concerns products including mobile devices, portable music players and tablets.
If the ITC does decide to investigate the complaint it will take 16 to 18 months to reach a conclusion of whether to ban the import of wireless Apple products, writes Mueller. Apple theoretically could request a similar action in a district court, or even file a counter-suit at the ITC. It has not done either at this point.
The trademark and patent suits — which variously accuse Samsung of ripping off Apple designs, and Apple infringing on Samsung patents — come amidst increasing competition between the two companies on the mobile device front, but also a strong relationship on the component supply front. As Mueller points out, though, the device business is a far more valuable one for Samsung or Apple to risk losing.
The ITC filing, which was made yesterday, came on the same day that reports emerged that Apple is considering switching suppliers on its A6 processing chips: currently Samsung supplies these, and the report, on the Taiwanese news site Digitimes, alleged Apple was considering a Taiwan-based manufacturer instead.