Less than two weeks before Samsung and Apple chief executives will meet for court-moderated settlement talks in San Francisco, the two frenemies cut the number of claims roughly in half in an effort to expedite the process and ahead of a summer trial.

That didn’t stop the parties from the usual bickering, with Apple saying Samsung’s copyright infringement practice has allowed the South Korean conglomerate to claim the top spot in worldwide smartphone sales.

Returning favor, Samsung argued Apple is “unable to compete”

According to patent expert Florian Müeller, writing for his own blog FOSS Patents, the iPhone maker in court documents underscored “massive sales” of Samsung’s “copycat products”:

While the parties have been readying the case for trial Samsung has vaulted into first place in worldwide sales of smartphones, with massive sales of its copycat products. Samsung’s infringement of Apple’s intellectual property has already resulted in damages that reach billions of dollars. […] It is critical to Apple to start trial on July 30, to put an end to Samsung’s continuing infringement.

Firing back, Samsung argued:

Samsung claims Apple is “[u]nable to compete in the marketplace” and “instead seeking to compete through litigation, requesting injunctions against the full lineup of Samsung’s mobile phones and tablet products”. Samsung also says that “Apple has only been able to muster utility patents covering extremely minor user interface features, and design patents and trade dresses that offer far narrower protection than Apple urges”.

I am no patent expert, but it seems to me that Apple is trying to add “damages that reach billions of dollars” to any potenitial injunction stemming from an eventual abuse of its patents.

In related news, an ITC judge threw out 3,000+ pages filed by Apple to challenge Samsung’s patents, forcing the company to focus on its strongest points as the ITC clearly is unwilling to evaluate thousands of pages that attack Samsung’s patent claims element by element.

As you know, Apple conceded the top smartphone vendor title to Samsung last quarter. Although Apple blew analysts out of the water with 35.1 million iPhones sold, Samsung’s first-quarter smartphone shipments were in the range of 45 million units, depending on who you ask.

The South Korean conglomerate stopped reporting handset and tablet shipments last summer, citing competitive reasons. Apple continues to report iPhone and iPad unit sales in their quarterly earnings. Samsung also became the top cell phone vendor, beating Nokia for the first time.

Together, Apple and Samsung accounted for the 90+ percent of mobile industry’s profits, leaving rival vendors with loose change.

Is Apple right to cite infringement as the reason Samsung beat it to the smartphone punch last quarter?