Samsung seeks ban on iPhone 4S in Italy, France
Apple CEO Tim Cook gestures during the announcement of the iPhone 4S at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, Tuesday. [AP/YONHAP]
Samsung Electronics, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of mobile phones, announced yesterday it will push for an injunction in France and Italy to bar the sale of the iPhone 4S in those countries, arguing that the new Apple device infringes upon Samsung’s communications patents.
“The patents [in the lawsuits] are core technologies for smartphones and other communications devices, thus the sale [of the iPhone 4S] should not be allowed,” Samsung said in a statement. “Samsung has a firm stance that it will no longer overlook the free-riding on its patent assets.”
Apple unveiled the eagerly anticipated new iPhone on Tuesday morning U.S. time at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.
Samsung and Apple - the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 smartphone makers - have been embroiled in a string of litigations around the world since April. Apple alleges that the Korean electronics company “slavishly” copied its iPad and iPhone, while Samsung claims the U.S. software firm has violated its communications patents.
Samsung sold 19.2 million smartphones in the second quarter, falling just short of Apple’s 20.3 million iPhones, according to market researcher Strategy Analytics.
As to why Samsung chose France and Italy, Samsung officials explained there were several factors, including the symbolic importance of the markets.
But they said Samsung will go for sales bans in other countries in the future, signaling an intensifying war over smartphones and tablet computers between the two giants.
At the same time, Samsung Electronics said it’s confident that the iPhone 4S will pose little threat to its thriving smartphone business.
“Apple only releases one or two new devices a year, but our product lineup is extremely diverse,” a Samsung official said. Samsung’s lineup includes the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II as well as the Galaxy S II LTE, which supports the fourth-generation wireless communications technology called LTE (Long Term Evolution).
“Apple’s new devices often play a leading, trend-setting role in their specific product category,” the Samsung official acknowledged. But he said that Samsung’s rich product catalog, coupled with its support of LTE, provides an edge over Apple.
LG Electronics, which hasn’t been doing so well with smartphones, also showed confidence yesterday that its smartphones, which support LTE networks and have Qwerty keyboards, are differentiated from the iPhone 4S.
“We have put a lot of effort into LTE phones for years, so we believe we have a good chance,” an LG official said.
The company, which released its first LTE smartphone earlier this year in North America, has launched Optimus LTE smartphone through SK Telecom and LG U+ - the largest and smallest domestic mobile carriers - this week.
Last month, Jefferies, an investment banking group, named LG Electronics as the leader in essential LTE patents, saying it claims 23 percent of the pool of LTE patents that Jefferies analyzed, followed by Qualcomm, Motorola Mobility, InterDigital, Nokia and Samsung.
Pantech, the country’s third-largest handset maker, said that it plans to unveil its new Vega LTE phone today and release two additional LTE phones before the year’s end.
Pantech officials say even though Apple has said the iPhone 4S is faster than the iPhone 4, it cannot compare to handsets that use the 4G mobile communications technology.
But mobile carriers are let down by Apple yesterday. SK Telecom and KT, the carriers that sell iPhones, were disappointed at the fact that Korea was excluded from the first batch of countries that will get to sell the new iPhone, to the surprise of most industry observers.
By Kim Hyung-eun [email@example.com]