Secrecy high in Apple, Samsung patent case

Korean technology giant Samsung has proved reluctant to reveal the differences between the Australian and United States models of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in its ongoing patent dispute with Apple.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Korean technology giant Samsung has proved reluctant to reveal the differences between the Australian and United States models of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in its ongoing patent dispute with Apple.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
(Credit: Samsung)

In the latest hearing in the patent battle between Apple and Samsung at the Federal Court in Sydney today, Samsung counsel Neil Murray raised an objection to Apple, seeking to highlight to the court the differences between the US Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the — as yet unreleased — Australian model.

Apple counsel Cameron Moore said that it was important to work out the differences in order to see how Samsung had worked to circumvent Australian patents owned by Apple.

Yet Murray argued that that Apple's case would be centred on whether the Australian model violates Apple's patents, and, as such, the US model had no relevance.

Moore, in response, said that the US model was important, since Apple understood that the Australian version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was just a "slightly de-featured version of the US model", and much of Apple's evidence, such as a technical analysis and the instruction manuals, were based on the US model. Moore said that as part of Apple's technical analysis of the US version of the touchscreen in the device, it had to destroy two Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets.

Moore said that the instruction manuals were particularly relevant, as the instruction manuals of the US model instruct users to use the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in a way that violates Apple's patents.

"This product has been formulated to look like, smell like and feel like an iPad. We say [the US instruction manuals] are relevant to the Australian version, because of the very limited differences between the Australian and the international version."

Apple had also sought an instruction manual for the Australian Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which has not yet been created, but, in the meantime, has been provided with the Australian model of the device to inspect and determine the differences between the models.

Justice Annabelle Bennett proposed that if Samsung launched the Galaxy Tab 10.1 without an instruction manual in Australia, users would likely go online and look at US instructions in order to determine how to use the product.

After a short break, Moore said that Samsung was not prepared to detail the differences, but withdrew its initial objection to Apple, seeking to point out the differences between the Australian and US models.

As patent battles between Apple and Samsung rage across the US, Germany, France and Japan, Samsung also sought to prevent Apple's US lawyers involved in these other cases from seeing evidence from the Australian case, which it believes to be commercially confidential.

Moore said that the secrecy surrounding the Australian device would raise questions about how the case would ultimately be run.

"We're very concerned with, in practical terms, how this case will run," he said, adding that the public may have to be asked to leave the court when the Australian model is demonstrated.

"Your honour might have to close the court on occasions," he said.

Bennett said that Samsung will have to narrow down what exactly is confidential before the final hearing of the case.

"I think that we will have to identify the confidentiality to a degree of specificity," she said.

"I think it's fair to say there's relative [public] interest in this case, and I'm loathe to exclude the public unless it's absolutely necessary."

Samsung has until Monday to file documents for the case, blaming a public holiday in Korea for a delay. The hearing is scheduled to begin in the week beginning 26 September.

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