The suit, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, claims the South Korean electronics company copied Apple's mobile devices with products like the Galaxy S, Nexus S and Epic 4G smartphone, as well as the Galaxy Tab touchscreen tablet.
Apple has accused Samsung of violating patents it owns related to the design and creation of the iPhone and iPad. Last September, APC observed that Samsung's Galaxy Tab accessories were so similar to the iPad that the site said, "we can feel an Apple lawsuit coming on."
"Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple's technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products," the complaint reads.
The growing rivalry between Samsung and Apple is complex, because Apple is also the largest customer of Samsung, with a reported $7.8 billion in purchases planned for 2011. Samsung builds the custom chips used by Apple in devices like the iPhone and iPad, and also supplies flash memory and liquid crystal displays.
Apple's latest legal action is similar to a suit filed over a year ago against HTC. In that complaint, Apple accused HTC of infringing on 20 iPhone-related patents, and cited Google Android-powered handsets including the Nexus One.
"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it," Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said in a statement that accompanied the HTC lawsuit. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."
Apple is also engaged in a high-profile legal battle with another major rival, Nokia. Apple has sued Nokia, and is also being sued in an ongoing patent infringement suit.