SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics said it would file for a sales ban on Apple's new iPhone with courts in France and Italy as the phone infringed its patents, widening its legal battle with Apple.
The maker of Galaxy smartphones and tablets, which has emerged as a credible challenger to Apple's mobile devices, said on Wednesday it would file for a sales ban in other countries after further review.
The latest salvo by the company comes less than a day after Apple's iPhone 4S left investors and Apple's fans wishing for more than a souped-up version of its previous device introduced more than a year ago.
The intensifying legal battle threatens to derail Samsung's telecoms and component businesses. Apple is the biggest customer of Samsung, buying mainly chips and displays.
On Tuesday, Apple rejected an offer from Samsung to settle their tablet computer dispute in Australia, possibly killing off the commercial viability of the new Galaxy tablet in that market.
"Apple has continued to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights and free-ride on our technology," the South Korean firm said in a statement.
"We will steadfastly protect our intellectual property."
Samsung said the preliminary injunction requests for a ban on iPhone 4S sales will be filed on Wednesday and each case involves two patent infringements related to its wireless technology.
Under the laws of France and Italy, companies can seek and courts can order a ban on sales of a product even before the product hits markets, Samsung spokesman James Chung told Reuters.
Apple and Samsung are vying for the top spot in the global smartphone market and are battling over patents in courtrooms around the world.
Samsung is set to report sharply lower quarterly earnings on Friday on persistent declines in chip prices, while investors look for signs its telecom business can sustain its booming growth.
Samsung's intensifying attack comes after a series of setbacks in Europe and Australia.
Apple and Samsung are due to meet again in courtrooms in the United States, the Netherlands and South Korea next week.
Both companies have sued each other in 10 countries and in more than 20 cases since April.
Apple says Samsung's Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets "slavishly" copied its iPhone and iPad and has launched an international legal battle.
Samsung, widely expected to overtake Apple as the world's No.1 smartphone vendor in unit terms in the third quarter, rejects the claims.
Samsung accused Apple of not paying licensing fees for some of its patents before it started selling iPhones in 2007.
Apple argues Samsung never demanded a license fee until 2010 and before that Samsung remained silent because Apple is an important customer.
The iPhone 4S adds to Apple's iPhone 3G, 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPad 2 products that Samsung claims infringed its wireless-technology patents.
Samsung's latest Galaxy tablets, powered by Google's Android operating system, have already been blocked in Germany. So too have some smartphone models in the Netherlands.
In Australia, sales launch of new tablets is indefinitely delayed due to legal disputes.
Shares in Samsung closed up 1.7 percent on Wednesday after the new iPhone failed to wow fans and investors, leaving Android rivals better placed to grab market share.
(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott)