Apple Inc. (AAPL) won a one-week extension of a ban on Samsung Electronics Co.’s sales of its latest tablet computer in Australia, delaying pre-Christmas sales, in a battle that began in April in the U.S. and spread to four continents.
High Court Justice John Dyson Heydon today extended the ban on the release of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 to Dec. 9. On that day, the country’s top court will consider Apple’s request for permission to appeal a lower court’s order issued earlier this week, which lifted a ban on the product that has been in place since mid-October.
“A stay for one week will cost Samsung, in effect, one week’s trade,” Heydon said, following a 90-minute hearing in Sydney. The extension will hurt Samsung “but not to extend the status quo is likely to be injurious to Apple,” he said.
The decision scuttles Samsung’s plan to begin importing the Galaxy Tab 10.1 into Australia this weekend and take advantage of the pre-Christmas shopping season. The company had said if it can’t sell the tablet in Australia before Christmas it would scrap its release in the country.
“This is a critical period of time,” Katrina Howard, Samsung’s lawyer, told Heydon today. “Even one day can make a difference.”
Samsung had planned to release the tablet for sale today at 4 p.m. Sydney time, import the product over the weekend and begin a marketing campaign, Howard said.
“Samsung believes Apple has no basis for its application for leave to appeal,” the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in an e-mailed statement distributed in Sydney.
The “high-velocity” unveiling of the Galaxy Tab into the Australian market “confirms the need for a stay,” Apple’s lawyer Stephen Burley told the judge. “Even a short release of the product can cause irreversible harm to Apple” and Samsung won’t be able to compensate Apple for those damages, he said.
Samsung fell 0.7 percent to 1.06 million won as of 10:06 a.m. in Seoul trading.
The Australian dispute is part of a battle between the companies on at least four continents that began in April, when Apple sued Samsung in the U.S. and accused it of “slavishly” copying the designs of iPhones and iPads.
The patent disputes began when Samsung released its Android-based Galaxy smartphones in 2010. Steve Jobs, the co- founder of Apple who died Oct. 5, initiated contact with Samsung in July 2010 over his concerns that the Galaxy phones copied the iPhone, according to Richard Lutton, Apple’s patent attorney, who testified in Sydney on Sept. 29.
Samsung was the world’s biggest maker of smartphones in the last quarter, with Apple being second. The maker of Mac computers dominates the tablet market.
The appeal case is Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) v. Apple Inc. NSD1792/2011. Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).
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