Samsung accused of designing iPad clone

Samsung has been accused by Apple Australia's legal counsel of intentionally designing the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with the Apple iPad in mind in an attempt to usurp the global market share of the Cupertino-based gadget giant.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor

Samsung has been accused by Apple Australia's legal counsel of intentionally designing the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with the Apple iPad in mind in an attempt to usurp the global market share of the Cupertino-based gadget giant.

Presenting arguments to the New South Wales Federal Court this morning, Apple's lawyers alleged that Samsung has designed its Galaxy Tab 10.1 to look, feel and operate like the iPad and iPad 2 and, in this instance, has been caught in the act.

This mimicry would leech Apple's brand to sell Samsung devices, according to the Cupertino-based giant.

Apple Australia originally took Samsung to court in Australia in August, claiming that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringed on patents used for the creation of the iPad. Samsung, on the other hand, claimed that Apple was basing its case on the US version of the device and offered up three Australian models for study, agreeing to push back the release of the device to market.

After thorough study, Apple Australia claims that the devices it received were hurriedly stripped of contested features in an attempt to dodge the litigation and enable the release of the product to market.

Samsung handed the three devices to Apple along with a list of 10 differences between the new Australian version and the existing version from the US. Differences on the list include the appearance of the word "Samsung" on the front of the device, as well as the alleged stripping of various features from the 10.1 as well as several hardware and software tweaks.

"[Samsung will] have a go at launching a product and if they get caught out [infringing patents], they'll design around it. Samsung should clear the way before [it launches a product] rather than try to crash straight through," Apple's legal counsel said, adding that a multimillion-dollar company like Samsung can surely afford to do a patent search before committing resources to a new product.

Apple Australia has today limited the scope of its case to three infringing patents, including the design of the touchscreen, the operation of multi-touch and the heuristic capability of the device — that is, how a device reacts to touch, multi-touch and "imprecise inputs" — as well as selective rejection or the way a device recognises, identifies and rejects inputs.

Apple presented a series of videos taken from its studies of the Australian Galaxy Tab 10.1, which represents the first time the device has been seen in the wild down under. The court also saw the white and yellow packaging for the device set to be released to stores, which Apple also claims infringes on the look and feel of its iPad 2 packaging.

Samsung's legal counsel, David Catterns QC, defended the Korean technology giant in court, saying that packaging, design, look and feel has nothing to do with the patent case. He said that Apple only pursued the Galaxy Tab 10.1 because it was a superior, more attractive product than an iPad 2, representing a threat to Apple's market share in Australia.

"This case has nothing to do with form factor, nor shape, nor a white cardboard box: it's a patent case ... questions of our design rationale are irrelevant," Catterns said, adding that Apple never sued Samsung for products containing similar features in the past.

"You can't really use the tail to wag the dog [and ban the device outright], if it's only a small part of the accused device infringes.

"[Apple] admits they didn't sue us on earlier products that have these features. This product is more desirable [in the market] because it's thinner."

The two parties spent the day taking Justice Annabel Bennett through the patents contested in the legal claims ahead of the two parties duking it out in a hearing on Thursday.

Samsung had previously flagged intentions to release its Galaxy Tab 10.1 to market by Friday, making this case a race against time for Apple Australia.

Meanwhile, Australian e-tailer Ruslan Kogan has pulled the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 from his online store after Apple reportedly threatened legal action. Kogan announced plans to sell the Tab 10.1 on his online store last month, along with mainstream digital cameras and the Apple iPad 2. The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Freehills sent Kogan a cease and desist letter today.

Updated at 5:32pm, 26 September 2011: updated with information on Ruslan Kogan.

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