Apple and Samsung have been fighting a patent war in many a country, with new skirmishes being reported everyday. It’s rather hard to keep track of all that’s going on, so today I’m pleased to show you the infographic at right.

AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski put together this little graphic to show what Apple and Samsung are fighting about.

Okay, the graphic merely shows the smartphone aspect of the ongoing fight, and it doesn’t even touch the fight over tablet designs. But it does give us a useful lesson in the difference between superficial similarities and the facts of the case.

If you look at the image you can clearly see the influence that the iPhone had on Samsung’s smartphone designs. Before the iPhone Samsung had clunky Qwerty devices, and after the iPhone they made sleek iPhone clones. This is pretty clear evidence that Samsung copied Apple, right?

Not exactly.

The problem with the graphic is that it ignores the timescale involved. Sure, Apple launched the first slab type of smartphone, but they only beat Samsung and LG by about a month. Samsung revealed the F700 not too long after the iPhone was unveiled in 2007, and LG had the Prada right around that same time.

Neither phone was as nice as the smartphone, but you can look at them and that there is a good chance that Samsung and LG didn’t get the idea from Apple.