Retributive Strike: Samsung May Seek Preemptive Ban Against iPhone 5 in Korea

Samsung and Apple have been fighting legal battles in Asia, Europe and the US, with the majority of victories thus far going to Apple. Samsung has decided to retaliate on its own turf and is planning to ask Korean courts to ban the iPhone 5 as soon as the device is launched. At present, the two companies are engaged in 23 separate legal battles across much of the developed world and more cases are expected. At this point, the two companies are very nearly engaged in a corporate version of world war.

"Just after the arrival of the iPhone 5 here, Samsung plans to take Apple to court here for its violation of Samsung’s wireless technology related patents," said a senior executive from Samsung Electronics, asking not to be identified.

"For as long as Apple does not drop mobile telecommunications functions, it would be impossible for it to sell its i-branded products without using our patents. We will stick to a strong stance against Apple during the lingering legal fights."

This is a major strategy shift for Samsung, which has mostly avoided a public scrap with Apple. The company has also filed a fresh countersuit against Apple in Australia, appealed the German ban on Galaxy Tab sales in the EU, and is apparently stepping up both its rhetoric and legal offense.

Logistically, the move makes sense. Samsung may have remained silent in the beginning, in hopes of eventually salvaging its relationship with Apple, but the rift between the two companies has apparently passed the point of no return. Rumors suggest that Apple has tapped TSMC for production of its A6 instead of continuing its relationship with Samsung, and that's not a move that can be taken back. While it's technically possible to port a design from one foundry to another, Samsung and TSMC use two different 28nm construction techniques (gate-first and gate-last, respectively).  There's no way to shift between the two, and no chance of Apple switching back to Samsung at 28nm if it's actually committed to TSMC.

Apple's legal pressure forced Samsung to pull its Galaxy Tab 7.7 from display at IFA this year, despite that device's far smaller screen and the lack of an Apple comparison product. "We are taking different tactics since we are quite confident,’’ said another Samsung executive on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to speak publicly for Samsung.

"If Samsung wins in Germany that will give us a big breakthrough and so will other envisioned efforts against such products as the iPhone 5."

Despite the current rifts, Apple remains Samsung's largest customer, a fact that undoubtedly complicates the legal dealings between the two. Despite Samsung's bullish commentary, a Korean injunction or finding of infringement is by no means certain to impact other cases. The various nations involved all have different patent laws and varying definitions of what constitutes infringement. Samsung's decision to countersue in Australia come after the company had previously announced it intended to redesign the Galaxy 10.1 to avoid any infringement claims Apple might bring, and are a sign of just how frustrated the electronics giant is with what it views as predatory harassment.