Samsung Takes Apple Dispute to ITC to Block IPhone Imports

Samsung Electronics Co. escalated its legal dispute with Apple Inc. (AAPL) over smartphone patents, filing a trade complaint that seeks to block U.S. imports of the iPhone, iPod and iPad.

Samsung, the world’s second-largest maker of mobile phones whose Galaxy devices compete with the iPhone and iPad, claims Apple is infringing five patents, according to a filing with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington yesterday. The ITC, which can block imports of products found to violate U.S. patents, must decide if it will investigate Samsung’s claims.

The case by Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung adds to lawsuits in at least four countries as the companies vie for share of the mobile-device market and use the courts to try and gain access to samples of products the other has in development. The dispute began in April when Cupertino, California-based Apple claimed in a U.S. lawsuit that Samsung’s Galaxy phone and tablet computers “slavishly” copy the iPhone and iPad.

Samsung, which also supplies memory chips for Apple, retaliated with lawsuits in Seoul, Tokyo, San Francisco and Mannheim, Germany. Apple also has a civil suit pending against Samsung in South Korea.

The patents in the ITC case are related to ways to transmit multiple services over a wireless network; the format of data packets used for high-speed data transmission; integrating Web browsing into a phone; a way to store and play digital audio; and viewing digital documents using a touch-sensitive display, according to the complaint.

Competitive Industry

“Each of the asserted patents is important to Samsung’s success in the highly competitive industry of mobile electronic devices by providing Samsung with features that are highly desirable to consumers,” the company said in the complaint.

A representative for Apple wasn’t immediately available to comment on the case.

If the ITC takes the case, a judge would hear arguments within a year and the case would be completed within 15 to 18 months.

Samsung, which has U.S. headquarters in Richardson, Texas, and a research facility in San Jose, California, said it “invests in U.S.-based personnel who provide product design, research and development, and engineering to help design a product that will work in the U.S. market.” The Apple devices, it said, are made in China.

The case is In the Matter of Mobile Electronic Devices, including Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, and Tablet Computer, Complaint No. 2824, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Allan Holmes at aholmes25@bloomberg.net

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