October 5th, 2011
05:29 PM GMT
London (CNN) – The heated rivalry between two of the world’s technology giants just got hotter. Samsung intends to file court injunctions in France and Italy to stop Apple selling its latest flagship iPhone model, the iPhone 4S, in both countries when it releases later this month.
Samsung is accusing Apple of two patent infringements, both dealing with wireless telecommunications technology.
Samsung’s move will not come as much of a surprise to Apple or its lawyers. Both companies have been aggressively pursuing each other through the international legal system for most of 2011 with over 20 claims filed in 10 countries since April.
Florian Mueller, intellectual property analyst at Foss Patents, says one of the main problems is the international nature of the process, and the numerous legal systems involved.
“‘I'm sure Apple is not surprised [by Samsung’s move], but Apple now has to determine how much legal uncertainty there is… the question is whether a judge in a given jurisdiction will understand it,” he says.
“Take Italy, for example: the courts in that country hear very few patent infringement cases, so there's no guarantee they will give Apple the treatment that more experienced patent courts in such jurisdictions as the United States or Germany would,” he adds.
That said, the move by Samsung is not quite as dramatic as it may first sound. Samsung already have outstanding international patent infringement claims against the previous three iPhone models and active claims in both France and Italy, so this is really just adding the 4S to that list.
The timing of the move is slightly more revealing. Coming less than 24 hours after Apple introduced the iPhone 4S, this is a statement of intent to aggressively pursue Apple through the international legal system at any opportunity. “Samsung wants to demonstrate a hard-line attitude toward Apple,” Mueller says.
In a world where Apple seems to have the clear upper-hand in product vision and subsequent delivery, patents are one of the few battlegrounds where competitors can challenge hard.
But Mueller says the current ‘patent-wars’ are not sustainable long-term. “Right now this industry has a need to sort out a variety of intellectual property issues. Who owns what kind of technology? Who owes how much to whom? Who needs which rival's patents? There's a gigantic market at stake, and war chests are full," he says.
"This won't go on like that forever, but this is non-trivial and it will likely require protracted litigation between some players, such as Apple and Samsung, on a global scale.”
It’s not yet clear how this will impact the consumer – more will be known on October 14, when the Apple iPhone 4S is slated for release in France, before being released a fortnight later in Italy.
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