Samsung Electronics has filed patent countersuits against Apple in South Korea, Japan and Germany, responding to last week’s lawsuit from Apple about how Samsung’s smartphones and tablets copied Apple’s products.

Samsung said that Apple infringes five patents, but didn’t specify the technologies involved. The stakes are high and the litigation is just one among a number of companies jockeying to become the ultimate power in smartphones. Other lawsuits involve Apple against Nokia and HTC, Microsoft against Motorola, and Google against Oracle.

“Samsung is responding actively to the legal action taken against us in order to protect our intellectual property and to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business,” the statement said.

Apple filed a lawsuit last Friday alleging Samsung violated patents and trademarks of its iPhone and iPad. Tim Cook, chief operating officer at Apple, said during Apple’s earnings call that Samsung’s mobile division “crossed a line.” He said Apple is Samsung’s biggest customer and will continue to be so. But the companies discussed the matter for some time and Apple decided to take it to the courts, Cook said.

Apple’s iPhone has taken off in a big way, with more than 18.65 million units sold in the first quarter. It’s not clear how many of the Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab devices Samsung has sold. But Samsung is one of the leaders in the market for devices based on Google’s Android operating system. It’s no accident that Apple is going after Samsung in that respect.

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