Samsung Electronics has hit back at Apple with lawsuits in three countries alleging infringement of patents on smartphone technologies. Last week Apple sued Samsung for allegedly copying features of Apple's iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone in its Galaxy smartphone and Galaxy Tab tablet PC.On Thursday, the South Korean electronics giant sued Apple in Seoul alleging five patent infringements, in Tokyo over two alleged infringements and in Manheim, Germany, over three."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 company said in a statement.According to Samsung, the lawsuits say Apple infringed on patents concerning reducing data transmission errors in WCDMA (Wideband CDMA) mobile networks, tethering mobile phones to PCs so the PC can use the phone's wireless data connection, and reducing power consumption when transmitting data over HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) networks.Apple's lawsuit filed on April 15 in the U.S. says Samsung copied external design features on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. The lawsuit further alleges that Samsung designed application icons for that come close to icons on Apple's devices.Samsung last year became the first major consumer electronics maker to release a tablet that threatened the iPad market dominance. Its series of handsets that run Google's Android mobile OS also began vying last year with iPhones. Apple introduced the first iPhone in 2007 and announced the first iPad more than a year ago. Samsung came out with the Galaxy S in mid-2010 and the first Galaxy Tab late last year.Market research firm Gartner has forecast that iPad sales will reach 48 million this year, compared to 13.9 million Android tablets, giving Apple's iOS a 68.7 percent share of the tablet market. Next year, Gartner predicts, that share will drop to 63.5 percent.