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Apple sues to block Samsung phones and tablets in Japan

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Apple has filed suit with the Tokyo District Court in Japan seeking to block sales of the Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy S II smartphones, along with the Galaxy Tab 7 Android tablet. Apple says the devices violate patent on its iPhone and iPad devices, and the products are essentially efforts to copy Apple’s popular mobile products. According to Reuters, the first hearing in the case was held on Wednesday, although there’s no word on when the Tokyo court might make a ruling. Apple is reportedly seeking ¥100 million (about US$1.3 million) in damages along with a ban on sale of the devices.

The Japanese lawsuit is the latest front in a broad legal battle between Apple and Samsung over its Galaxy smartphones and Android tablets. The two companies are already engaged in patent battles over the devices in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Korea. So far, Apple has managed to inflict some damage on Samsung, with a recent order barring the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 in Germany causing the device to be pulled from the IFA show floor this week. Apple accuses Samsung of “slavishly” copying Apple products. Samsung, of course, has countersued Apple.

Samsung has had success against the iPhone and iPad in Japan: according to Strategy Analytics, the Samsung Galaxy S sold better than the Apple iPhone in Japan in the first quarter of 2011, and Japanese mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo just launched a version of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 on its 4G LTE mobile broadband network.

NTT DoCoMo does not seem worried about the suit. In comments to IDG News, DoCoMo chief Ryuji Yamada says Samsung has assured the company that Apple will not be able to win an injunction on sales in Japan.

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