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Apple files patent suit against Samsung in South Korea

An employee of KT holds an Apple's iPhone 4 and a Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S in Seoul
An employee of KT holds an Apple's iPhone 4 and a Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S in Seoul

SEOUL (Reuters) - Apple Inc has filed a lawsuit in South Korea, claiming Samsung Electronics Co Ltd infringed upon several patents, a court official said on Friday, in the companies' latest legal tussle over smartphone and tablet devices.

The litigation comes as Samsung filed patent suits in South Korea, Japan and Germany in April over the U.S. company's iPhone and iPad after Apple claimed Samsung's Galaxy line "slavishly" copied its products.

Global technology companies are locked in a web of litigation as they try to defend their shares of the booming tablet and smartphone market.

Last week, a lawyer for Apple said in a U.S. court that executives "at the highest levels" of both companies are in talks about patent litigation.

This was after the judge referenced the close business relationship between the two companies to resolve the case through alternative dispute resolution outside the court.

Apple, which was Samsung's second-biggest client after Japan's Sony Corp last year, became the South Korean firm's biggest customer in the first quarter, mainly by purchasing semiconductors, according to Samsung's quarterly report.

Samsung is one of the fastest growing smartphone makers on the back of a boom in Android operating system and has emerged as Apple's strongest competitor in the tablet market.

A spokesman for Apple Korea declined to comment on the patent law suit and reiterated the company's previous stance.

"It is no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging," the spokesman said.

In the previous filing against Apple, Samsung said it was seeking compensation for patent infringements.

Samsung shares closed up 2.5 percent ahead of news of the law suit.

(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Vinu Pilakkott)

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