Apple is suing Samsung Electronics in Japan, accusing it of patent violations relating to the iPhone and iPad, Kyodo news agency said, the latest salvo in a series of patent battles between the two firms.

California-based Apple has filed a suit with the Tokyo District Court seeking the suspension of sales of Samsung Galaxy phones in Japan, as well as 100 million yen ($1.3 million) in damages, Kyodo added, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The first hearing was held on Wednesday, Kyodo said.

With the patent battles, Apple is taking on the biggest maker of the Android-based gadgets that threaten its dominance of the smartphone and tablet markets.

Last month Samsung announced it would delay the launch of its latest Galaxy tablet computer in Australia until after a court ruling in late September. Last week a German court banned sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7.

A spokesman for the Tokyo District Court said he could not comment on pending cases, while staff at Samsung's Japan office were not immediately available for comment. ($1 = 77.325 Japanese Yen)

(Reporting by Isabel Reynolds and Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)