IP News

Apple and Samsung Clash over Multi-Touch Technology

May 25, 2011

Apple Inc., the giant behind the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, has sued Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. for patent infringement, trade dress infringement, unfair competition and unjust enrichment in the Northern District of California.

Apple has alleged that the distinctive design features of their products were imitated by Samsung in its recently introduced Galaxy line of mobile phones and the Galaxy Tab computer tablet. In a 38-page complaint, Apple enumerated all its patented innovations and compared it with the similar features of Samsung’s Galaxy mobile devices.

Apple holds patents for its ‘multi-touch’ technology, an innovation that allows users of its mobile devices to control them with their fingers. The technology eliminates the need for a built-in keypad and allows the user to take full advantage of a wide Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) to run the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. These devices feature an elegant glass and stainless steel case with a distinctive user interface, icons, and an eye-catching display that gives it an unmistakable look.

According to Apple, Samsung ‘slavishly’ copied Apple’s innovative technology instead of pursuing an independent product development which is in violation of the latter’s intellectual property rights.

Apple allegedly holds trade dress protection to the following features it claims to have been infringed by Samsung: a flat rectangular shape with rounded corners, a metallic edge, a large display screen bordered at the top and bottom with substantial black segments, and a selection of colorful square icons with rounded corners that mirror the rounded corners of the product.

Apple also claims to have distinctive packaging for its products - a compact black or black-and-white box with eye-catching metallic silver lettering on a matte black surface, with sides of the top box extending down to cover the bottom portion of the box completely. These were supposedly mimicked by Samsung.

Moreover, certain features of Samsung’s phone and tablet software - phone calls, messaging, photos, settings, notes, address book, and iTunes icons were also alleged to have been copied by Samsung. These icons were the subject of Apple's trademark registrations.

Apple seeks to ‘put a stop to Samsung’s illegal conduct’ and to obtain compensation for the violations of the former. In a statement issued to the media, Samsung has said that it is responding actively to the legal action taken against it in order to protect its intellectual property and to ensure Samsung’s continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business.

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