Samsung wins against Apple in Aussie court

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Samsung wins against Apple in Aussie court

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Those who expected to see the world’s top two smartphone makers patch up their differences in the wake of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ untimely demise in October can think again as Apple and Samsung’s patent war seems set for the long haul.

Australia’s highest court yesterday rejected Apple’s bid to continue its sales ban on Samsung Electronics’ tablets in the country, freeing the Korean company up to sell its Galaxy 10.1 tablets there in the lucrative run-up to Christmas.

“The tablet will be available in stores in time for the Christmas shopping period,” Samsung said in a statement, without providing a specific date.

In October, an Australian court issued a temporary injunction on sales of the gadget after Apple lodged a suit based on allegations that the Korean company had copied its design.

But Samsung challenged the decision by taking its case to a higher court and won the right to resume sales on Nov. 30. Refusing to accept the decision, Apple counter-appealed but the higher court also sided with Samsung.

Samsung, which overtook Apple as the world’s leading manufacturer of smartphones and tablets in the third quarter, has been locked in at least 30 lawsuits with its chief rival in 10 countries since April of this year.

Further complicating their fractious relationship, Samsung ranks as Apple’s top supplier of chips and flatscreens.

Speaking on behalf of the three-judge High Court panel, Australia’s Chief Justice Robert French was quoted as saying that Apple had failed to persuade them that it could win on appeal. “Apple’s application for special leave to appeal was dismissed with costs,” a spokeswoman for Australia’s High Court told Dow Jones Newswires.

However, the week did not end on an unequivocal high for Samsung as it tasted defeat in France just hours before learning of the good news in Australia.

A French court rejected on Thursday (local time) Samsung’s request for an injunction that would prevent Apple from selling its iPhone 4S in the European country.

“The disproportionate character of the ban sought by Samsung against Apple is clear,” Judge Marie-Christine Courboulay said in explaining her ruling.

The Paris court also ruled that Samsung must give Apple 100,000 euros ($134,100) as compensation for its legal fees, but rejected the California-based company’s request for damages.

Meanwhile, Samsung officials will be in court again on Friday in another European country, Italy, seeking a similar injunction against the 4S. But industry watchers like Florian Muller, an independent expert who follows patent battles in the mobile industry, suspects the Italian court will take its cue from the recent decision in Paris.

Given the sum total of their tit-for-tat battle over the last eight months, observers say that neither Samsung nor Apple have so far been successful in striking a fatal blow on one another.

Besides scoring a victory in Germany in September, when Apple managed to block Samsung from selling its tablets there, it has achieved little besides moving to undermine the Korean company’s brand overseas.

Apple’s attempt to frustrate sales of Samsung’s smartphones in the Netherlands around the same time forced the latter to tweak some features on its hottest-selling models before going back to business as usual.

Still, while the protracted patent battle is exhausting industry watchers and making for repetitive headlines, neither of the two principal parties seem to have run out of steam yet.

Apple plans to appeal the decision by a U.S. judge ignoring its call to block sales of Samsung’s latest mobile devices in the country, according to a Dec. 8 filing by Apple lawyer Michael Jacobs.

And with the battle lines recently being redrawn in Korea at the Seoul Central District Court, Samsung’s lawyers were busy launching an attack against Apple claiming that its patent infringements have cost the company at least 100 billion won ($88.29 million) in damages.

Some critics forecast that the legal battles between the two could last anywhere between six months and two years, with out-of-court settlements looking like a realistic outcome.

Apple set a precedent for this in June by resolving its differences with Nokia through an agreement to license wireless phone patents owned by the Finnish telecom giant following two years of legal bickering and over 40 lawsuits. Worldwide, Samsung sold 27.8 million smartphones in the third quarter, followed by Apple with 17.1 million, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.


By Kim Hyung-eun, Kim Chang-woo [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

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