The global patent battle between Apple and Samsung has taken two dramatic turns, with an Australian court overturning a ban on sales of Samsung's tablets, and Apple applying to a German court to have Samsung's latest device banned.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet is at the centre of legal disputes with Apple in Australia and Germany. Photo credit: Josh Miller/CNET News
On Wednesday, three Australian federal court judges overturned a ruling in October imposing a temporary block on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet in the country. Apple applied for that ban as it claimed the device infringed on its patents for slide-to-unlock, pinch-to-zoom and other features.
According to ZDNet UK's sister site ZDNet Australia, the lifting of the preliminary injunction should mean the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is on sale in time for the Christmas rush. However, Justice Foster allowed Apple a stay on the new judgment until Friday, to give Apple time to launch an appeal against it.
"This order serves to prolong the injustice held against Samsung," Samsung's representatives complained to the judge. "Any stay, no matter how short, given the [impending] ... Christmas season would prove further hardship to Samsung."
Foster said last week that the original injunction, which was intended as a stopgap measure until the patent case could be properly heard next year, was "not terribly fair to Samsung". Such injunctions can be fatal to a tablet product as, although they are technically temporary, the market is very fast moving.
Although the Australian case is partly concerned with the look of the Galaxy tablets, the German case is entirely to do with the devices' designs, which Apple says are too close to those for the iPad.
Because of this, Samsung tweaked the design of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 to include chrome accents. It renamed the refreshed device the 'Galaxy Tab 10.1N' and put it on sale.
Now, Apple has secured a hearing on 22 December at the Düsseldorf Regional Court to see if it can get the 10.1N off the shelves as well. According to a Dow Jones report on Tuesday, the injunction Apple is requesting would bar Samsung's German subsidiary from selling the offending device anywhere in the EU, although it is not clear whether Apple is demanding the same block against the parent company.
Apple and Samsung now have dozens of lawsuits flying between them in countries around the world although, as Samsung has noted, "Apple started it" in April by suing Samsung in the US over what it called the "blatant copying" of iOS products.
Android tablets constitute the only major threat to Apple's iPad line in the tablet market. Although tablets existed before the iPad, many of those that have come out since Apple entered the market have looked similar to the iPad, in that they have a large touchscreen surrounded by a minimal bezel.
Samsung has a complicated relationship with Apple, as it is a major component supplier to the American company but also a serious rival in mobile devices. In the third quarter, Samsung shot past Apple in smartphone shipments, becoming the world leader with a 24-percent market share.
Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviewsdelivered directly to your inbox with