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Apple ditches half its Samsung claims in countdown to court

Apple has jettisoned half of its legal challenges in the courtroom war with Samsung.

Apple has ditched half of its legal challenges in the courtroom war with Samsung. The two companies are locked in battle over alleged similarities between the iPhone and iPad and Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets, and are narrowing down the focus of their fight to beat the ticking clock.

Apple's concessions come just days after the Samsung Galaxy S3 kicked things up a notch for Samsung, the South Korean company that was recently named the world's biggest phone maker. US-based Apple reckons Samsung's dominance in the phone world was won by ideas stolen from the iPhone and iPad, with potentially billions of dollars at stake in damages.

Samsung counters that Apple's challenges relate to minor user interface and design elements that have had little to do with Samsung's success.

Things could be resolved when Apple and Samsung's bosses meet face-to-face, but it seems that only a judge can pull the two apart. The clock is ticking towards a trial date next month.

Samsung responded to Apple's concessions by dropping five of the 12 patent claims it has asserted against Apple. By paring down the patents at issue, the two companies hope to keep their 30 July trial date. Samsung still argues Apple is hampering proceedings with too many legal arguments, but Apple has explicitly stated that time is of the essence as Samsung sales go from strength to strength.

If you're thinking that next month's trial could mark the end of the patent squabbles, think again. Apple has reserved the right to pursue the ditched patents at a future date, potentially opening up more legal skirmishes, even after this one is resolved.

There are plenty of other cases raging between phone companies. Nokia has just opened a new front, with legal claims against HTC and BlackBerry.

Has Samsung copied Apple to become the biggest phone builder, or would the Galaxy S2 and its ilk have conquered the world anyway? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.