Galaxy Tab ban overturned in Australia

Galaxy Tab ban overturned in Australia

Summary: The Federal Court of Australia has overturned the preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in a stunning verdict read to the Federal Court this afternoon.

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update The Federal Court of Australia has overturned the preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in a stunning verdict read to the Federal Court this afternoon.

The unanimous decision made by Federal Court Justices John Dowsett, Lindsay Foster and David Yates ordered that the injunction made by Justice Annabelle Bennett be overturned, allowing the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to be released in Australia.

In a surprise move, however, Apple legal counsel Stephen Burley SC then sought a stay of the orders handed down by Justice Foster so that an appeal against the overturning of the injunction could be heard before the High Court of Australia.

Naturally, Samsung had strong objections to the stay of orders.

"This order serves to prolong the injustice held against Samsung," the Korean gadget-maker's representatives told Justice Foster today, adding that any stay or appeal to the High Court would see Samsung crippled in the upcoming Christmas shopping season.

"Any stay, no matter how short, given the [impending] ... Christmas season would prove further hardship to Samsung."

Justice Foster conceded to the orders proposed by Apple and issued a stay of orders until 4pm (AEDST) on Friday so that Apple could file its appeal in the High Court of Australia.

Samsung said in a statement that it was pleased with the outcome of the case, despite the stay of orders awarded to Apple.

"Samsung Electronics Australia is pleased with today’s unanimous decision by the Federal Court to lift the preliminary injunction on sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. We believe the ruling clearly affirms that Apple’s legal claims lack merit.

"We will make an announcement regarding the market availability of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia shortly," Samsung added.

The availability of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will all come down to what happens in Friday's court proceedings. Samsung Australia's head of telecommunications previously told the court during his cross-examination that the Korean-based gadget maker could have the Tab 10.1 on Aussie shelves within a week of the injunction being overturned.

Apple reiterated its statement made at the commencement of the case.

"It's no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging. This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas," Apple said in a statement.

Apple won a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in October after a trimmed down version of the original case was heard. Justice Annabelle Bennett told the court that if the case ever went to full trial, Apple would likely walk out with a victory over Samsung based on the evidence it had submitted so far. She added, however, that no matter which side she came down on, one party was likely to sustain heavy damage in the market.

The temporary injunction meant that Samsung was restricted from promoting the device, taking pre-orders, shipping to sales channels or even generating interest in the Tab 10.1 until the case had been resolved.

Samsung said it was disappointed with the verdict and 14 days later, started an appeal against the decision before the full bench of the Federal Court of NSW. The full bench heard Samsung's claims that the original ruling was incorrect and that it ought to be overturned.

The court also heard from Samsung's lawyers that its rivals including Acer, Asus and Motorola sell tablets that operate in a similar fashion to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and to an extent, the iPad, too. It remains unclear whether Samsung was looking to drag other parties into the case or shore up its own legal defence with this evidence.

Galaxy Tabs compared

The re-designed Galaxy Tab 10.1N (above) and the disputed Galaxy Tab 10.1 (below)
(Credit: Mobiflip.de)

Australian shoppers dead-set on getting the Galaxy Tab 10.1 were still able to get their hands on the banned device, however, via several online importers. DMavo, Kogan Technologies and Mobicity were originally importing the devices before Apple served a cease and desist order on all three. DMavo was the only tablet importer to refuse Apple's order to stop importing the devices, labelling Apple's demands as outrageous. According to DMavo, Apple's demands also included a requirement that the company hand over all data on customers who had purchased one of the tablets from the importer.

Meanwhile, Samsung had sought to dodge the Galaxy Tab 10.1 ban elsewhere by redesigning the device and labelling it the Galaxy Tab 10.1N. The 10.1N seemed to be a ray of light in the case for Samsung before Apple today sought to also ban that device in the German court.

Locally, Apple's legal representatives have continually expressed concern over the possibility of Samsung redesigning the Tab 10.1 and relaunching it under a different name to dodge the Australian injunction. Justice Bennett said at an earlier directions hearing that Samsung could be held at its word as a major international corporation that it would do no such thing in Australia.

Despite today's verdict, Apple and Samsung aren't finished with their litigation, with Samsung's cross-claim attempt to ban the iPhone 4S set for a hearing in March next year.

Updated at 3:41pm, 30 November 2011: added comment from Apple and Samsung.

Topics: Apple, iPad, Legal, Mobility, Samsung

Luke Hopewell

About Luke Hopewell

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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16 comments
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  • Poor Apple. Suck it!
    weej-7d5c3
    • Unfortunately, if I read it correctly, Samsung still won't be able to sell them yet because Apple will surely appeal before Friday and that will surely delay it further :(

      This issue is set to heat up like an iPhone 4s :-D
      meniga
      • LOL ! +1
        Master_T[RG]
  • I am happier now.
    Yerie-58c84
  • Great news for all consumers i think. This will give those people who don't want an iPad a chance to own another great piece of hardware. Adding some real competition to the tablet market will also give Apple lovers a reason to expect (and force Apple to provide) great new things in the iPad 3 to keep themselves as the market leaders!! A win for us all i hope.
    mhgeol
    • Android based tabs are not great pieces of hardware, the OS is too slow, sluggish, limited, and doesnt have the visual finesses that iOS does. I have tested many of the latest Android devices, and the OS is too sluggish - its not snappy enough. The external hardware visually is impressive, but the OS really tarnishes the performance and the problem is the Android OS. Need a new OS.
      Spongebob-fff50
  • Real competition is where a company designs a device BETTER than the iPhone or iPad. Competition is not to come out with a copy of the device without having to do their own research and development and taking their own risk for that ORIGINAL product. Samsung did none of those. They simply stole the design and with little risk introduced a device that they say is "competition". This is not competition but simply theft and fraud under the guise of competition. Why don't they come up with something that is different? If you thing that there are only one way to design these products I simply need to point you to the days when Nokia used to say that their key layout with the old candy bar phones was the only way to design a phone.......till Apple came out with the iPhone. And then everyone was saying ,"of-course the iPhone way is the only way to design a phone". Yeah right!
    Andy55-851d3
  • Regardless of the thumbs down Andy55, imo, the following sentence of your's (below) is a very pertinent point, in relation to business. All businesses... not including people's petty hatred or hero worship of particular products (which seems childishly, strangely rampant, more so in the IT sector than any other)...

    "Competition is not to come out with a copy.... without having to do their own research and development and taking their own risk for that ORIGINAL product".

    Indeed...
    Beta-9f71a
    • Agree. All current products are close copies of the Apple iPad because no one has thought of a design that does not look too similar to their device. A new approach is needed by Samsung, especially when they supply a lot of components to Apple for the iPad and other Apple products.
      Spongebob-fff50
      • Rubbish - the Acer Iconias are nothing like the bland eye pad and have far more flexibility - including USBs and in-built 3G (optional). Apple were not the first with a tablet, they have been around in a more primitive form for over 10 years. And the hide of Apple to ask for customers details that chose, of their own volition to buy a Samsung Galaxy 10 - I do hope the companies asked for such information told Apple where to stick it. This bullying behaviour by Apple is highly unethical and won't win them any friends in Australia that is for sure.
        ngukurr2
  • They DID design a device thats better. Its not a matter of why it was designed that way - its a matter of it BEING better. Its a better device technically, not in terms of polish and refinement. After owning one for 4 months now, its certainly excellent in performance and technical ability - only limited by the honeycomb experience ... which isnt stellar.

    You can patent intellectual property sure, but you cant patent "look and feel" as Apple have tried. This is why it was overturned, because the judges decided the patents dont make sense and made them invalid. Apple do some excellent work, but you cant argue with facts - patents for "look and feel" are pointless. Really - how do you get a patent for a rectangle?
    Master_T[RG]
  • So, basically what you are saying is that everyone should be just using Apple Macs or IBM computers.

    Real competition in the computer industry didn't occur until all the IBM Compatible computers came out. They all looked like and worked like IBM computers, but they were a fraction of the price. It is this sort of competition we need in the smart phone and tablet market.

    I think there is a valid place for Apple's products and the competitives products. Apple might lose out some sale, but they are one of the best when it comes to marketing. I say let open the gates and let real competition take place. The good devices will stand on their own merits, the bad ones will soon naturally disappear. Then we will really see competition and further advancements in the technology!
    nscowen
    • @GameKiwi. This will almost never happen as companies are piggybacking of other companies creations / ideas. Most tablet designs are too similar to the iPad, and this is what's annoying Apple. "Competition" is just a theory and does not work in practicality. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was close in pricing to the iPad which is a more superior build quality and iOS runs a lot better than any current version of Android. Samsung price thier products way too high in Australia which pushes people to Apple which they know has been in this market for a lot longer, and has the product refinement and marketing prowess to make people switch.
      Spongebob-fff50
      • Where is your proof that Apple is a superior product to the Samsung? I have had a Samsung phone - and I have had an Apple phone and I know which one I prefer, not the eye phone - that's for sure. And what about Apple's invasion of consumer privacy - the company IMHO is unethical and predatory.
        ngukurr2
  • People keep pushing this "competition" which is a load of B.S. because Apple have the market in terms of hardware and OS and Apps. Android started way too late after flood gates had opened and they may never catch up ever. Steve Jobs always hated Android because honestly it looks like a knock-off of Apple's own OS just with some modifications to make it visually different. Each day this Samsung saga goes on, more Apple hardware is being sold and Samsung will never make the sales up, due to delays and Court requirements regarding this litigation. Hell, even Samsung's new 10.1N new design, is not acceptable to Apple.

    The current ongoing litigation is having a positive impact on Apple sales so the longer Apple can stretch this out, the more chance Samsung will not be able to sell their hardware during xmas and this will probably mean a price drop when released (if ever). Visually, the Samsung Galaxy TAB does look like an iPad rip off due to its "Trade Dress".
    Spongebob-fff50
  • You realise that most of the parts that goes into an ipad are all made and designed by samsung don't you? You do know that the iphone wasn't the first smartphone to ever come out right? There were hundreds of windows mobiles that were designed with touch screens just like an iphone.
    lexxander