Apple has filed its first lawsuit over patents and trademarks for the technology and appearance of its iPad tablet computer, accusing Samsung Electronics of copying the look and feel of the hit product.
The federal case filed on Friday in San Jose district court claims the South Korean manufacturer violated 10 iPhone and iPad-related patents in Samsung’s Android-based smartphones and Galaxy Tab, the first serious iPad competitor to emerge late last year.
“Instead of pursuing independent product development, Samsung has chosen to slavishly copy Apple’s innovative technology, distinctive user interfaces, and elegant and distinctive product and packaging design,” the suit argues.
Apple is already a party to numerous lawsuits over smartphone functions, where it has a disadvantage because of a smaller patent portfolio and shorter history in the industry than some of its rivals.
The new suit is the first against Samsung, whose corporate affiliates supply Apple with components.
Unlike most of the phone litigation, Apple’s new case stresses “trade dress”, or the appearance of the products, and it includes photographs showing a marked similarity in the tablets’ shape and even the appearance of the onscreen icons, which are uniform squares with rounded corners.
While those claims might have a commonsense appeal and avoid the complexity of patent issues, the burden to win is heavier. Aggrieved companies typically win only if they can show that consumers will be so confused by the copying that they won’t realise who the manufacturer is.
“Samsung will respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property,” the company said, suggesting it could counterclaim that Apple violated Samsung patents.