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Apple to ask US court to block Samsung smartphones sales

Forcing South Korean phones off shelves more important than fines to iPhone maker

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 August, 2013, 2:47am

Apple is trying to force Samsung Electronics' mobile devices off US store shelves a week after dodging an iPhone 4 ban by a rare White House veto.

The company will ask a US appeals court today to block sales of Samsung models a California jury found violated patents for the iPhone's look and features. Later, a US trade agency is expected to say if it will halt some Samsung imports based on other Apple patent-infringement claims.

For California-based Apple, making Samsung change or stop selling some smartphones and tablet computers is more important than money. The US$1 billion verdict it won at trial last year equals less than two weeks' worth of iPhone sales and about 14 per cent of Samsung's second-quarter profit.

"Sometimes, the money's not enough," said Ray Van Dyke, a technology-patent lawyer with the Van Dyke Firm in Washington. "Between Apple and Samsung, it's about who's going to be the top dog. You want to shut them down. This is the club. You can beat them into submission with a club and maintain your top dog status."

Apple and Samsung together make almost half of all smartphones sold, with Samsung holding the title of world's biggest and the two companies are vying to be No1 in the US.

The two companies are spending millions of US dollars in legal fees battling across four continents. Neither has been able to strike a crippling blow. An import ban that could have halted some of Apple's older iPhone 4 and iPad 2 3G models at the US border was vetoed by President Barack Obama's administration last week.

Slowing Samsung's momentum will be hard - most of the models named in Apple's patent cases are no longer sold as Samsung regularly introduces new devices in different price ranges. The company said it has designed around the Apple patents in newer products.

"Samsung's US sales of the older products in question are very small, which accounts for even less than 1 per cent of the company's total handset sales there," said Seoul-based Shinhan Investment analyst Kim Young-chan.

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