Samsung: Apple trying to limit consumer choice

SEOUL, South Korea — Samsung on Saturday accused Apple of resorting to litigation in an effort to limit consumer choice after the iPhone maker said it was seeking to stop the sale of Galaxy S III smartphones in the United States.

Fresh from its $1 billion court victory over Samsung Electronics Co, Apple Inc., in a separate case, asked a federal district court in San Jose, California, on Friday to add four more products to a list of Samsung goods that Apple says infringe its patents.

The new list of 21 products includes Samsung’s flagship smartphone Galaxy S III as well as the Galaxy Note, another popular Android phone. If the court finds those devices are infringing Apple’s patents and irreparably harming the U.S. company, it could temporarily halt sales in the U.S. market even before the trial begins.

The latest accusation is part of a larger, epic struggle over patents and innovation in one of the most lucrative consumer electronics sectors that is unfolding in 10 countries.

The biggest stakes are in the U.S., the world’s largest smartphone market in 2011. Last month, a jury in the San Jose court found that Samsung had copied Apple’s design innovations and Samsung was ordered to pay Apple $1.05 billion. Samsung has vowed to appeal the verdict, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

On Saturday, Samsung denounced Apple’s attempt to halt sales of the S III, which hit the 10 million global sales mark in July, less than three months after its release.

“Apple continues to resort to litigation over market competition in an effort to limit consumer choice,” Samsung said in a statement. “We will continue to take the necessary legal measures to ensure the availability of our innovative products in the United States.”

The strong sales of the S III were crucial in driving Samsung’s quarterly profit to a record high in the last quarter and helped it stay ahead in the worldwide smartphone market.

In documents filed with San Jose federal district court on Friday, Apple said 21 Samsung smartphones, media players and tablets released after August 2011 were “copycat products.”

“Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smartphone and tablet computer products, Samsung has chosen to copy Apple’s technology, user interface, and innovative style,” Apple said in one document.

The Cupertino, California-based company claimed that Samsung is illegally using its eight patents. One patent is related to the way the device retrieves information in a computer system and another is about gestures on a touchscreen display to unlock a device.

Apple and Samsung are the world’s two largest smartphone makers and together they control over half of the global market. They are embroiled in similar legal tussles in Asia, Europe and the United States.

In April 2011, Apple first accused Samsung of illegally copying Apple’s design and technology in the smartphones powered by Google Inc.’s Android technology. Samsung countersued, arguing Apple’s iPhone and iPad used its wireless technology without permission.

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