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Apple sues Samsung over patented iPad, iPhone case designs [u]

The legal battle between Samsung and Apple continues to grow, as Apple has filed a new lawsuit against Samsung accusing the company of violating patents related to tablet and smartphone case designs [updated with clarification from Samsung].

Update: Samsung contacted AppleInsider with a statement clarifying that Apple's new claims are related to the external appearance of the devices, rather than the accessories as originally reported.

"We would like to clarify that the additional claims filed by Apple in Australia do not relate to protective case accessories, as has been indicated in some media reports. In fact, the intellectual property asserted are patents related to the utility of mobile devices and design rights related to the external appearance of devices," the company's statement read.

Apple has notified Samsung of the alleged infringement, and will file a statement of claim with an Australian court, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. Apple believes that Samsung's cases for tablets and phones violate "at least" 10 patents the company owns.

The latest accusations of patent infringement were revealed in a hearing held before Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett. Apple hopes to delay a trial scheduled to begin in March, in which Samsung hopes to prove that the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPad 2 infringe on patents related to 3G data connections.

Apple believes Samsung's official case for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes on its patented designs. The iPhone maker has also asserted that Samsung's cases designed for its smartphones are infringing.

Sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 were initially blocked in Australia as a court looked into Apple's claims of infringement with the touchscreen tablet. But the device was eventually approved for sale in Australia earlier this month.

The mounting lawsuits between Samsung and Apple span across four continents, and there are more than 30 lawsuits filed against one another. Apple fired first in the courtroom, suing Samsung in April for allegedly copying the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad.

But the latest twist in the showdown between the two companies is the first time that Apple has accused Samsung of copying cases for the iPhone and iPad, rather than the devices themselves.

Last week, Samsung sued Apple over four new patents in Germany, including one invention related to text input for a "smiley" icon, created by typing ":-)" on a device. Samsung has also attempted to use Apple's lawsuits against it, and has started marketing the Galaxy Tab 10.1 as "the tablet Apple tried to stop."