Apple asks federal judge to block sales of new Samsung smartphone

Apple (AAPL) on Thursday ratcheted up its smartphone war with Samsung, urging a San Jose federal judge to block the Korean tech giant from releasing its new device later this month.

Samsung’s plan to unveil its Galaxy S III smartphone in the United States on June 21 would “irreparably harm” Apple, a company attorney told U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who has been presiding over the legal showdown between the world’s two largest smartphone makers since early this year.

Koh did not rule Thursday on Apple’s bid to shut down sales of the new device, which Samsung is hoping to release before Apple launches its next iPhone. the judge indicated she needs more information on the Galaxy S III, but Apple attorney Josh Krevitt indicated the company would now seek a temporary restraining order to block the release immediately.

Apple alleges that Samsung’s line of Galaxy phones and tablets mimic the technology in the iPhone and iPad products. Samsung “slavishly” copied Apple, the company says in suits to block the sale of those devices in the United States and in separate legal claims around the world.

Samsung has denied any patent violations. Apple is trying to block release of the new Samsung phone because it is “better” than Apple’s, a Samsung attorney told the judge.

The maneuvering over Samsung’s latest product once again has Koh dealing with a moving target in Apple’s closely watched feud with Samsung. Apple has challenged earlier versions of Samsung’s Galaxy phones and warned Koh on Thursday that the new device could hit the market with the same patent violations alleged earlier in the case.

On Thursday, Koh primarily heard arguments on Apple’s previous request to issue a preliminary injunction that would shut down sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone, a precursor to the upcoming Galaxy S III.

Apple alleges that Samsung violated patents on iPhone features such as the sliding lock and auto-correct on texting, but Koh grilled both sides on whether those features can drive the difference in sales between the two products.

Apple is locked in a worldwide battle with Samsung, which runs on Google (GOOG)’s competing Android operating system.

Koh is set to hold a trial in late July on at least part of the Apple-Samsung patent fight.

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz.

Apple asks federal judge to block sales of new Samsung smartphone


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