Samsung vows US launch of S III despite Apple suit

South Korea's Samsung Electronics vowed to press ahead with the US launch of its newest smartphone this month, despite a fresh lawsuit filed by rival Apple seeking to block the cutting-edge model.

Apple has asked a court for the Northern District of California in San Jose to ban sales of the Galaxy S III on grounds of patent infringement, Samsung said on Thursday.

The two technology giants are battling for supremacy in the lucrative smartphone and tablet market. They have launched dozens of legal actions alleging patent infringements against each other in 10 countries worldwide.

Two days of court-directed peace talks between the chiefs of the two firms ended in San Francisco last month with no sign of a truce.

"Samsung believes Apple's request is without merit," the South Korean firm said in a statement. "We will vigorously oppose the request and demonstrate to the court that the Galaxy S III is innovative and distinctive."

The Galaxy S III has so far been launched in 28 countries, mainly in Europe and the Middle East. It was being launched in China Thursday, and will be available in 145 nations by July.

Samsung has not given an exact date for the phone's US launch but says it will be "later this month".

Despite the lawsuit from its US rival, Samsung said: "We would also like to assure consumers that the US launch and sales of the Galaxy S III will proceed as planned."

The third version of the Galaxy S series offers face-recognition technology and improved voice-activated controls as well as a more powerful processor that lets users watch video and write emails simultaneously.

It can detect eye movements and override the phone's automatic shutdown if the user is looking at the screen.

Samsung, the world's biggest technology firm, shipped 44.5 million smartphones in the first quarter, exceeding the 35.1 million by Apple, market researcher Strategy Analytics said in April.

It said the Korean firm also overtook Nokia as the biggest maker of all types of mobile phone in the same period.

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