Legal woes between Apple and Samsung may impact iPhone 4S sales in Europe

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Apple vs SamsungSamsung and Apple are embroiled in a bitter legal battle which could start to impact European sales of iPhone 4S contracts.

The row began earlier this year when Samsung was accused by Apple of copying elements of the iPhone in its Galaxy range of smartphones and tablets. The firm has attempted to block the release of the Galaxy Tab, Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Ace in different countries through the use of injunctions. In return, Samsung hit back. The Korean manufacturer’s latest attempt was in France where they had tried to get an injunction to stop the sale of the iPhone 4S. The court disagreed and said Samsung should pay 100,000 euros of Apple’s court costs. It is just the latest in a string of battles which have been fought in the US and Europe.

Last week in America, Apple tried to ban four Samsung products. That was rejected. In Australia last month Samsung succeeded in overturning an injunction imposed in favour of Apple, banning the sale of the Galaxy Tab. It is still under another injunction in Germany. Apple is also trying to stop the sale of HTC Android phones.

Samsung will head to court in Italy in mid-December to seek a further injunction, similar to the French one.

The bitter battle just illustrates how far 2011 has seen competitors in the smartphone market fight for supremacy. Up until 2010, Apple was dominant. Despite the initial problems it had had around the launch of the iPhone 4 and antenna-gate, iOS remained the most popular smartphone platform. That changed with the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy range, most notably the Galaxy S2 which, for many, is the phone of the year. It catapulted the Android platform into the number 1 spot in the US and gained ground in the UK.

Apple, in comparison, had to wait until mid-October and the launch of the iPhone 4S to win back some lost territory. Only then did it offer a serious contender to the powerful S2, launching a device with a dual-core processor, the impressive A5 chip (first seen in the iPad 2) and an 8 megapixel camera. While the iPhone 4S has dominated sales in the final quarter, and another push is expected before the end of December as it launches in further countries and is top of Christmas lists for many, it continues its legal fights. Samsung and Apple are embroiled in 30 lawsuits in nine countries.

Many legal experts believe the two firms should bury the hatchet but while they continue to compete for the title of the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer it seems unlikely they will do so anytime soon. Yet for many consumers, the fight in the courts is secondary to that on the high street. For many, the real winner will be announced once Christmas has passed and the final quarter of 2011 has passed. Will Android be crowned king of 2011, as many believed it would until the launch of the iPhone 4S, or will Apple have complimented its late surge with the new handset and takeover? Roll on January 1st.

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