South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co yesterday won its appeal against a temporary ban on sales of its Galaxy tablet device in Australia, a rare victory in its legal tussle with rival Apple Inc.
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.
The Federal Court of Australia in Sydney lifted the ban on the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 ahead of a full hearing on claims from the US giant that the device copies its iPad computer.
However, Apple immediately won a stay of orders, meaning that Samsung will not be able to sell the Galaxy in Australia before tomorrow.
“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.”
Samsung Electronics Australia said it was pleased with the decision.
“We believe the ruling clearly affirms that Apple’s legal claims lack merit,” it said in a statement issued from Seoul, adding that it would comment shortly on the market availability of the tablet in Australia.
The 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.
However, in reversing this decision, the court said there was “a real and substantial prospect” the supply of the Galaxy would not infringe an Australian patent relating to the touchscreen, one of several on which Apple had sought the temporary ban.
Apple might now apply to the High Court for a further extension of the stay of sales beyond tomorrow, despite objections from Samsung.
Apple won a similar ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany in October related to copyright breaches, prompting Samsung to later 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 US, Japan and South Korea.