Samsung wins appeal in Apple tablet battle

South Korean electronics giant Samsung on Wednesday won its appeal against a temporary ban on sales of its Galaxy tablet device in Australia, a rare victory in its legal battle with rival Apple.

The Federal Court of Australia in Sydney lifted the ban on the sale of the Galaxy 10.1 Tab ahead of a final hearing, with the US giant claiming the device copies its iPad computer.

But Apple immediately won a stay of orders, meaning that Samsung will not be able to sell the Galaxy in Australia until 0500 GMT Friday.

“The appeal will be allowed,” the judgment by Justice John Dowsett, Justice Lindsay Foster and Justice David Yates concluded.

“Samsung will be permitted to launch the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia provided it keeps accounts of all transactions involving that device in Australia or originating from Australia.”

The Federal Court granted an interim order against the sale of the Galaxy 10.1 in October, ruling that Apple had established a prima facie case that the South Korean company had breached touchscreen technology copyrights.

The Sydney court heard it would take a week to prepare to launch the Galaxy for sale in Australia, and Samsung argued against the further stay on sales.

“It simply serves to prolong the injustice suffered by Samsung,” lawyer Neil Young said.

In their judgement, the justices noted that the commercial life of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was approximately 12 months from launch and given that there was no final hearing fixed for the matter, the initial ban had “the practical effect of killing off the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia”.

“Although not so as a matter of law, the practical effect of those injunctions is to deliver to Apple complete victory in respect of its claims for final injunctions in respect of that device,” they said.

The Sydney courtroom battle is part of a wider global war in which two of the world’s biggest technology companies are vying for supremacy in the US$100 billion market for tablet computers and smartphones.

Apple won a similar ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany in October related to copyright breaches, prompting Samsung Electronics to say it had modified the design of its newest tablet in an attempt to bypass the sales ban.

The two companies are also engaged in an ongoing battle over smartphone and tablet technology in the United States, Japan and South Korea.

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