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Friday, December 16, 2011, 12:50 pm PT (03:50 pm ET)

Samsung sues Apple over 4 new patents, but backs off iPhone 4S complaint

Samsung has added four new patents to its lawsuit against Apple in Germany, but has backed off of a complaint related to baseband chips in the iPhone 4S.

The handful of changes to the legal spat between Apple and Samsung in Germany took place in Mannheim Regional Court on Friday. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents was on-hand for the proceedings, and provided a rundown of what transpired.

Samsung has now added four more patents and two new law firms to its complaints first filed this April in Germany. Those patents are:

The latest patent relates to text input for a "smiley" emoticon, created by typing ":-)" on a device. As noted by Mueller, "Smiley or not, patents are serious business."

"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. "Since Apple already has six lawsuits going against Samsung in Mannheim, it might start a few new ones in Munich."

Samsung also said on Friday that it does not request a ruling with Apple products that utilize Qualcomm baseband chips. That applies to the iPhone 4S, which is the only Apple product to date using a Qualcomm baseband chip.

While some initially felt this meant Samsung was conceding its attacks against the iPhone 4S, Mueller said that Samsung "did not waive its rights with respect to baseband patent assertions against the iPhone 4S in general." Friday's decision was portrayed as a "tactical move" that would "streamline" the lawsuit that was discussed in court.

Still, Mueller said it's most likely that Samsung made the decision because last week a French court denied Samsung's request to ban sales of the iPhone 4S. In that case, the judge found that Apple was covered because Qualcomm, which makes the baseband chip in the iPhone 4S, licenses the patents-in-question from Samsung.

Of course, the matters discussed Friday are only a few of the numerous legal battles between Samsung and Apple across the globe. Apple made the first attack in the courtroom against Samsung in April, with a lawsuit accusing the company of copying the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad, and Samsung quickly fired back, while lawsuits between the two companies continue to mount.