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When will it end? Apple fires at Samsung again

The iPhone maker says case designs for Samsung smart devices violate "at least 10 patents" it holds. The company issued a notice of infringement in Australia.

Do Samsung product designs violate Apple patents?
Do Samsung product designs violate Apple patents?

Apple continues to take the fight to Samsung.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company today went before an Australian federal court, alleging that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, as well as many of its smartphones, violate "at least 10" patents related to case design, according to Bloomberg, which was in attendance at the court hearing. Apple has so far issued only a notice of infringement but said it plans to file a statement of claim at a later time.

Bloomberg didn't say exactly what features in Samsung products might violate patents that Apple holds on case design.

Apple's notice was made before Australian Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett, the same judge who has been ruling on the companies' patent-infringement claims over the last several months. However, so far Bennett hasn't awarded either side a definitive victory. Currently, all the products in question--including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which was initially banned for sale in the country, and Apple's iPhone line--are currently on store shelves.

Apple and Samsung have also brought patent-infringement suits against each other in the U.S., Europe, and parts of Asia. As with Australia, neither side has been able to deliver a convincing blow elsewhere around the world.

But that doesn't mean they aren't trying. And as of late, they've been digging deep into their patent portfolios to find ways in which the other firm might be violating their intellectual property.

Nowhere was that more evident than last week in Germany when Samsung slapped Apple with four patent-infringement claims, including one that relates to a method for entering emoticons on the screen. Florian Mueller, author of FOSS Patents, said last week that it's only a matter of time before Apple responds with new infringement claims of its own.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Apple decided to respond to this escalation by bringing several additional patent infringement lawsuits against Samsung in Germany," he said in his blog.

Aside from Samsung, Apple is also waging patent-infringement battles with Motorola and HTC. Just yesterday, Apple won a U.S. International Trade Commission ruling against HTC. If HTC can't find a work-around to the single Apple patent the ITC says it violates, it could face an import ban on its smartphones starting April 19, 2012.

Neither Apple nor Samsung immediately responded to inquiries about their latest dispute.