Sydney: An Australian court slapped a temporary ban on the sale of Samsung Electronics’ latest computer tablet in Australia on Thursday, handing rival Apple another legal victory in the two firms’ global patent war.
A final resolution of the case could take months and ruin the viability in the Australian market of the new Galaxy tablet -- the hottest competitor for Apple’s iPad, which dominates global tablet sales.
The two technology firms have been locked in an acrimonious battle in 10 countries involving smartphone and tablet patents since April, with the Australian dispute centring on touch-screen technology used in Samsung’s new Galaxy tablet.
The Federal Court, in granting the temporary ban, ruled Samsung had a case to answer on at least two of Apple’s patents. The ban applies on sales of Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet until the same court rules on the core patent issue.
“I am satisfied that it is appropriate to grant an interim injunction, however I propose again the opportunity of an early final hearing on the issues presented in this application,” judge Annabelle Bennett told the court.
The Australian ruling follows Apple’s successful legal move to block Samsung from selling its tablets in Germany and some smartphone models in the Netherlands. It comes ahead of important hearings in the United States and South Korea.
“The ruling could further extend Apple’s dominance in the tablet market as it widens a sales ban of Samsung’s latest product,” said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities in Seoul.
“But it’s difficult to predict that other jurisdictions all take similarly negative rulings on Samsung and the firm does have the capacity to make a resilient rebound as it showed in the smartphone market with its Galaxy S model.”
Samsung left open the option of appealing against the ruling and pointed out that it would continue to pursue its own patent claim against Apple involving Samsung’s wireless technology.
“We are disappointed with this ruling and Samsung will be seeking legal advice on its options,” it said in a statement.
“Samsung will continue its legal proceeding against Apple’s claim in order to ensure our innovative products remain available to consumers,” it added.
The Australian court’s hearing of the patent issue could take months and force Samsung to miss the Christmas gift-giving season there.
In her ruling, judge Bennett offered Samsung the opportunity of a quick final ruling on the patent dispute.
But Samsung has so far been reluctant to agree to an expedited Australian hearing, despite the risk of missing out on Christmas sales, because it says it needs time to prepare a proper defence against Apple’s case.
In short, Samsung has indicated that missing Christmas in Australia could be less of a problem for the company than rushing its defence and risking defeat on a key patent ruling.
Samsung can appeal against the decision on the temporary ban within 14 days of the release of the written judgement, due on Friday.