FORTUNE — There’s a somewhat paranoid theory being circulated among Apple (AAPL) investors in the wake of the company’s seven-month, $296-billion loss in market value.
It goes something like this:
OK, so that last bit is admittedly a stretch and purely speculative. Apple’s shares were due to fall of their weight as the company entered several quarters of tighter margins and slower growth.
But the rest of this nightmare fantasy is pretty well-documented fact.
The shocked reaction of Chairman Lee Kun-hee to the California verdict last summer was widely reported in South Korean media. Samsung’s marketing budget comes directly from the company’s quarterly reports. The anti-Apple ads were aired on prime-time American television. Some of Samsung’s spiff rates are posted online. And just this week Samsung’s Taiwanese subsidiary admitted that it paid students to post negative comments about rival HTC in its home market. Reports have since surfaced in the U.K. and Sweden that it was engaging in similar practices in those countries.
To be fair, Samsung is a world-class electronics manufacturer and a fierce competitor whose smartphones have steadily improved and increased market share on their own merit.
But the company certainly has pockets deep enough to do real damage to a company it might choose to target by other means. What’s not clear is how low it’s been willing to go.