Apple is asking a court in Japan to block the sale of certain Samsung mobile devices there.
In the latest shot fired in the ongoing patent war between the two companies, a lawsuit filed by Apple in Tokyo District Court seeks to ban sales in Japan of Samsung's Galaxy S and S II smartphones and the Galaxy Tab 7 tablet, according to Reuters.
Citing information from "sources close to the matter," Reuters reported that the first hearing took place yesterday. This latest legal squabble kicked off on August 23 when Apple filed the suit against Samsung in Japan. As part of the suit, Apple wants 100 million yen ($1.3 million) in damages along with the ban of the three devices.
This is just the most recent volley in the back-and-forth patent infringement contest between the two mobile players. Alleging that Samsung's smartphones and tablets are illegally copying the interface and design from the iPhone and iPad, respectively, Apple initially sued Samsung in April.
Samsung quickly countersued in both Japan and Germany, claiming that Apple was violating certain of its patents related to mobile and wireless technologies. That eventually led Apple to essentially filing a countersuit to Samsung's countersuit in Japan on August 23.
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Beyond the shores of Japan, Apple has sued Samsung in other parts of the world, including the U.S., Australia, Korea, and Europe.
Apple has won a victory for now in Australia as Samsung decided last month to delay sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet there, at least until the end of September. As a compromise, Samsung had earlier agreed to provide Apple with three samples of the Galaxy Tab before it hits store shelves to determine whether any patents are being violated.
But Samsung has also revealed plans to countersue Apple in Australia, claiming that the iPad has infringed on some of its own patents. A court hearing scheduled for today was postponed, a Sydney court official told The Wall Street Journal, without revealing the reason.
Apple also been scoring some wins in Europe. In early August, a German court issued a preliminary injunction barring sales of the Galaxy Tab. That injunction was soon overturned in all countries except Germany after it was determined that the court did not have the jurisdiction to ban sales of the tablet beyond its own country.
But now Samsung is facing a separate ban in Europe aimed at its Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, and Ace smartphones. Issuing a preliminary injunction due to go into effect in mid-October, the court found that Samsung's Android-based devices are in violation of a software patent held by Apple in the EU.
In response to Apple's lawsuit in Japan, Samsung told CNET that the company "will actively defend our intellectual property rights in Japan in order to ensure consumers can continue to enjoy our innovative mobile devices without interruption. Samsung has already filed a lawsuit against Apple in Tokyo this April, and will continue to pursue Apple for its ongoing violation of our wireless technology patents."
Apple did not respond to CNET's request for comment on the suit.
Updated on 9/9 at 4:45 a.m. PT with a statement from Samsung.