Apple leverages Siri patent to block imports of Galaxy S III to US

Perhaps not unsurprisingly, Apple has asked the court for permission to add Samsung’s latest smartphone to its list of devices eligible for a preliminary injunction.

The company is leveraging its two patents to enforce the ban, one already successfully used to stop imports of HTC devices and the other covering unified search and Siri capabilities that Samsung’s device replicates with its S-Voice feature that Cupertino feels shamelessly rips off Siri’s user interface.

Looks like Samsung may want to re-think its stance that the S III wasn’t designed by lawyers

According to patent expert Florian Müeller, writing for his own FOSS Patents blog, Apple’s move proves again that Cupertino is on the offensive against Android.

Apple purchased the S III in the United Kingdom, where Samsung launched it on May 29. The U.S. launch date is June 21 — precisely two weeks after the preliminary injunction hearing.

Now, a lot is at stake here.

The Galaxy S III is Samsung’s flagship device that has seen nine million pre-orders worldwide, according to the company.

Müeller observes:

Apple’s motion notes that “according to press reports, Samsung has already sold over nine million preorders of the Galaxy S III; indeed, the Galaxy S III has been reported to be the most extensively preordered piece of consumer electronics in history.”

Here’s a little back and forth between the lawyers for the two technology giants:

Among other things, Apple asked Samsung to “confirm that it will not launch the Galaxy S III in the United States until the Court has ruled on Apple’s preliminary injunction motion”, but Samsung’s counsel replied on Monday (June 4) that “Apple’s pending Preliminary Injunction Motion will have no bearing on the release date of the Galaxy S III”.

Should the court decide that Apple’s preliminary injunction has its merits and enforce a sales ban, customs could indefinitely delay shipments of Samsung’s phone into the United States.

Now, Samsung could easily mitigate Apple’s data tapping patent with a custom Android build, as HTC did, but defending that strangely familiar S-Voice interface isn’t going to be easy at all.

What do you think?