Samsung Wins Approval for Australia Tablet Sales as Apple Loses

Chief Justice Robert French, on behalf of the three-judge High Court panel, said today that Apple failed to persuade them that it could win on appeal and denied the company a hearing. He reinstated an appeals court judgment lifting the ban on the Galaxy 10.1 tablets in Australia.

The ruling ends Apple’s four-month effort to keep the iPad’s biggest rival out of Australia on claims it infringes patents related to touch-screen technology. Apple and Samsung, the world’s biggest makers of smartphones and tablet computers, have sued each other on four continents since the Cupertino, California-based company accused the South Korean electronics maker in April of “slavishly copying” its products.

“While the win in Australia won’t give a big boost to Samsung’s revenue, it should be seen as symbolic,” Choi Do Yeon, an analyst at LIG Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul said in a phone interview. “Samsung suffered a blow to its image from earlier losses, but now they’re recovering.”

Samsung shares fell 1 percent to 1.05 million won at the close of trading in Seoul. Apple, the world’s most valued technology company, gained 0.4 percent to $390.66 yesterday.

Two Models

Samsung said it will sell a 16GB, Wi-Fi model in Australia for A$579 ($590) and a 16GB, 3G model for A$729. The company said the tablets would be available before Christmas, without specifying when. Apple offers its 16GB, Wi-Fi iPad 2 in Australia for A$579, according to its website.

Samsung’s lawyer Katrina Howard said last week, before a High Court judge extended the ban, the company had planned to import the tablets into Australia over the weekend and have them in stores on Monday.

Howard said it was “critical” for the company to start sales before Christmas.

Apple and Samsung have filed at least 30 lawsuits against each other, according to the Suwon, South Korea-based company.

Yesterday, Samsung failed to win an order from a Paris court to block Apple from selling its newest smartphone iPhone 4S in France. The maker of iMac computers also said it will appeal a U.S. judge’s refusal to block Samsung’s 4G smartphone and Galaxy Tab 10.1 computer.

Settlement Outlook

“Apple and Samsung are fighting under different circumstances in so many different countries,” said James Song, an analyst at Daewoo Securities Co. in Seoul. “With Samsung beginning to win some cases, the two companies may be getting closer to a settlement.”

In Sydney, Apple’s lawyer, Stephen Burley, argued today that the appeal court made a mistake in overturning the ban and that Samsung will “visit harm on Apple” by selling the device.

“You got your relief by the skin of your teeth,” French told Burley, referring to the original judge’s ruling that granted the injunction against the Galaxy tablet.

Extending the ban in Australia “would effectively determine the outcome” of a trial over the patents because by the time that’s concluded the Galaxy 10.1 will be obsolete, French said.

Steve Park, an Apple spokesman in Seoul, repeated the company’s statement on the dispute that “blatant copying is wrong and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”

Parts Supplier

Samsung is the second-largest component supplier for Apple. The company gets about 7.6 percent of its total revenue from selling memory chips, displays and other components for the iPhone and iPad, according to Bloomberg data.

Samsung’s tablet sales will probably account for about 3 percent of its revenue this year, LIG Investment’s Choi said.

A trial date on Apple’s patent claims in Australia hasn’t been set yet. Samsung’s countersuit, claiming Apple phones and tablets infringe its patents on 3G wireless transmission is scheduled for March in Sydney.

“Both Samsung and Apple are losing preliminary injunctions, so we’ll have to wait until the actual trials to know who’s really winning,” Choi said.

The case is: Apple Inc. (AAPL) v. Samsung Electronics Co. NSD1243/2011. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).




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